Living Labs: connecting the challenges of global cities with innovators around the world

Stockholm Living Lab

Aderemi Desalu presenting Living Labs Global 2011 Award to

Cities are the battleground of many of the major socio-economic and environmental challenges we face. Will social welfare and health services be cut in times of financial austerity? How can we mitigate climate change in the ways we build, live or move in cities? How can our cities be more attractive and interactive as tourist destinations to promote growth?

New technologies, business and services models are emerging at high speed, allowing us to share cars, bicycles, and parking lots in more than 200 global cities. We can diagnose 80% of visible diseases through taking a photo with our mobile phone, reducing the number of GP visits by up to 40%. And today blind and severely visually impaired citizens in Stockholm can move around freely thanks to high quality real-time urban data, not only liberating 2% of the populations from dependency, but also creating economic benefits to the city.

In our Living Labs Global Award programme, we are working with 21 global cities, including San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Lagos and Barcelona and, in the UK, Glasgow, Derry, Coventry and Birmingham, to articulate some of their most pressing problems as an opening for new technologies, business and service models to offer solutions.

After an evaluation process involving more than 100 jurors, each city will announce a winning solution that will subsequently be piloted.

In our past editions, we learned that many solutions exist to rapidly improve citizen’s lives – yet cities are often not aware of these. As a direct result of our programme Barcelona has improved its waste management system, Taipei has seen 1,000 housing units equipped with home care technologies, Sant Cugat operates the first intelligent street in Spain and Cape Town is providing social entrepreneurs a hybrid source of financing to enable them to deliver services that can transform society.

Our process, now being adopted as a standard by over 120 global cities, provides global market intelligence through, an online marketplace for cities. This global knowledge is evaluated through a transparent evaluation process, in partnership with organisations such as The Climate Group, to pick the highest impact solutions and provide market feedback to participating innovators. Pilots provide the last stage of learning where companies bring their solutions to life on the ground, enabling stakeholders to fully understand and evaluate impact.

As a result, we change global markets. Businesses that have invented new solutions in one community gain opportunities in new markets, promoting economic growth and sustainability. Procurement, investment and regulation by local governments becomes more intelligent due to insights into what happens in cities around the world, and through the experience of solutions in your own city.

Interested cities or solution providers can find out more about the Living Labs Global Award (submission deadline: 17 February 2012) at


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