Topic outline


    This topic provides a number of ideas about working arrangements that stimulate and facilitate innovation in the context of a laboratory - a place where there can be some experimentation and where new knowledge is generated

    The original stimulus was the Australian Discontinuous Innovation laboratory which was launched in 2008 as node of an international group of similar enterprises providing a place for joint industry - academia experimentation with new innovation management ideas. This included consideration of new business models.

    The term ‘innovation laboratory’ often describes a collaborative, user-centric, multidisciplinary approach to innovation initiation and implementation. Bessant (2008) describes a joint academia-industry “innovation lab” established to identify search processes that help develop foresight about emergent innovation possibilities. Kusiak (2007) uses the term ‘living innovation laboratory’ to describe an approach to combined product and service innovation. The term ‘living laboratory’ that draws on similar concepts is more widely used (more than 22 million Google hits) where user community-driven innovation includes real-life experiments to create value. Living laboratories have been used to support technology diffusion, social innovation and eco-innovation (e.g. VEIL, 2010).

    Here we explore a number of instances of such arrangements.

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    The European Network of Living Laboratories.

    A European community of Living Labs is rapidly extending, with over 200 currently cooperating (ENoll, 2010). Members are granted use of the ENoLL label and are also listed as members of ENoLL on the Openlivinglabs website (OL, 2010). They are expected to contribute to networking capabilities: design, improve, maintain, manage the ENOLL collaborative platform for enabling knowledge asset accrual; facilitate interaction and sharing through physical and virtual events; transfer of experiences between Living Labs. Participants are expected to support network communication through maintenance of information repositories: Maintaining up-to-date information on ENoLL members and events Is also a condition of participation. There is some form of governance structure and some rules for the game in gaining access to the network.

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    Incubators and Accelerators

    A number of government organisations and academic intsitutions establish places and working atrrangements that help entrepreneuers establish and grow new businesses.Some Canadian observations on Accelerators and incubators are presented at

    NESTA is a UK organisation with a mission to help people and organisations "bring innovative ideas to life". In 2011 it published a review of accelerator programs intended to support new technology ventures (called The Startup factories) that noted a rapid increase in the number of such programs  - see

    INNOVIC offers a range of consulting and education services to Victorian Companies - see
    The Hub offers Co-working spaces (see, argueing that  "The world is not lacking in great ideas, but it is lacking the collaborative and supportive structures to help make them happen. That’s where we come in.  The world is not lacking in great ideas, but it is lacking the collaborative and supportive structures to help make them happen. That’s where we come in. We exist to drive innovation through collaboration across diverse sectors, disciplines and generations. We believe the secret sauce of innovation is the chance encounters between unlikely allies. This is why we keep our membership diverse. Communities like the Hub are the marketplaces of the collaborative economy. We work hard to:

    • Drive new business and ideas
    • Enable peer-to-peer learning 
    • Catalyse impact in the community

    We exist to drive innovation through collaboration across diverse sectors, disciplines and generations.  We believe the secret sauce of innovation is the chance encounters between unlikely allies. This is why we keep our membership diverse."

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    The Alexandra Institute - Combining Research and Innovation

    (from the website ) "The Alexandra Institute was founded in 1999 by a group of corporate executives, researchers and representatives of public authorities.

    Their ambition was to create an organisation that through active and committed matchmaking could establish collaborative projects between research and industry within IT research.

    The Alexandra Institute is a matchmaker between industry, users and research 

    We facilitate collaboration on application-oriented research and innovation based on state-of-the-art knowledge from the IT research environments. We have developed specific models for collaboration between research and industry. These models have proven to be an efficient and valuable path to achieving results of both commercial and academic relevance.

    To achieve the best possible results, our projects always involve three parties: researchers, industry, and users. Researchers ensure that the projects have access to the latest knowledge, industries provide a business perspective, and user participation ensures applicability." 

    A Matrix style of opertain combines company interests across research streams with research interests across companies.

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    Google Ventures - A different kind of startup fund

    (For some background see Google supports startup firms through investment, the provision of co-working spaces and training/advice. Google platforms are utilised, and some firms may be acquired by Google to extend/enhance their product offerings. It has also been suggested ( ) that this arrangement also supports Google staff with ideas who might otherwise leave to implement them. Google is setting up incubator facilities around the world and forming partnerships with other incubator organisations.

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    The Australian Hargraves Institute - an industry initiative.

    The following is background from the website. The Hargraves Institute was founded in July 2006 to provide a unique and exclusive community of major enterprises to share knowledge, wisdom and experience in a non-competitive environment for the purpose of growth and development. The Institute takes its vision from one of Australia's most accomplished inventors, Lawrence Hargrave, who refused to patent his inventions, preferring them to benefit anybody who wished to use them. Hargraves willingness to share his ideas with the world enabled others to achieve manned flight, and this principle of sharing and collaboration to advance knowledge is indeed the cornerstone of Hargraves Institute.

    Hargraves membership provides a platform for people to collaborate, learn and engage with peers who are leaders in their field. Organisations join Hargraves to develop their people and be recognised as leaders who grow with current and future employees, suppliers, customers and society. Integral to the value of collaboration within the Institute is the diverse range of industries of our members. By collaborating with like-minded peers outside of their own industry sector, members can gain a new and different perspective. As a member driven services enterprise, Hargraves Institute uses facilitation and collaboration to develop collective wisdom that addresses issues generated by members. All programs and events are developed with extensive member input. The majority of Hargraves Institute events are free to members and held at member premises, with many exclusive to members.

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    The Siemens Australia & New Zealand Innovation Forum - an Enterprise Initiative.

    Siemens have established a place where people can come and "discuss the big issues, share knowledge and help develop innovative solutions to current and future challenges". It is an interactive facility that can host events for up to 150 people, and offers regular facilitated sessions for up to 20 people that include community leaders.

    A variety of topics are considered, such as - which technologies will shape our lives in ten to twenty years? A magazine "Pictures of the Future" reports twice a year on major technology trends and looks at work in progress in the Siemens laboratories. It includes future scenarios, features and reports on corresponding R&D activities at Siemens and interviews with international experts.

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    The Geelong Technology Precinct - A University / Government initiative

    The Geelong Technology Precinct was established with Australian Government support to provide a unique resource and facility for research aimed at industry co-operation and research application. The precinct includes an 11,000 m2 research and commercial facility and is home to the Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (ITRI) which boasts some 110 research staff and 90 post graduates. Collaborative research, contract research and testing, short and long term tenancy for selected technology-oriented businesses, and 'proof of concept' and 'industrial prototyping' services are available to help industry partners commercialize their innovative ideas.

    An Australian Government initiative - Enterprise Connect Innovative Regions, is located on the same campus and operates an SME outreach and innovation capability development program (see link below for more information)

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    Connect San Diego - A regional Initiative

    CONNECT is a regional program  that catalyzes the creation of innovative technology and life sciences products in San Diego County by linking inventors and entrepreneurs with the resources they need for success (see  It has been replicated around the world. Since 1985, CONNECT has assisted in the formation and development of more than 3,000 companies. The leadership of CONNECT attributes its success to the unique culture of collaboration between industry, capital sources, professional service providers and research organizations that CONNECT has sought to foster in the region. 

    CONNECT was originally founded as a part of the University of California (UC) San Diego in the mid-80s.  At that time traditional industries in the region were on the decline, the attraction of companies to the San Diego region was very difficult and region leaders were searching for a path to economic renewal and sustained growth. 

    The University of California subsequently started a parallel program called CONNECT International (see

    By leveraging the various assets within the region, CONNECT focuses its efforts on accelerating the commercialization of new technology and life sciences products. While that mission has stayed relatively true since its initial creation, the organization and its program offerings have continued to evolve in response to the changes in the region’s economic climate.

    At the time that CONNECT was being founded, UC San Diego was just beginning to mature as a research institution, and there were a small number of other research institutions in the region. Over the years as San Diego’s technology and life sciences clusters have matured, UC San Diego has continued to grow, and in tandem, so has the entire research base of the region.  Today, San Diego has more than 80 research institutions; about two thirds are part of the UC San Diego system, and the rest include private research organizations and a number of other academic-based research institutions.

    In 2005, to better serve the entire research community, CONNECT spun-out of UC San Diego and formed the CONNECT Association, a 501c6 trade organization and CONNECT Foundation, a 501c3 charitable foundation.  As a result of spinning-out from UC San Diego, CONNECT has been able to broaden its mandate to include public advocacy work on behalf of its members through the trade organization.

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    The Spanish Seniors Lab - A Community Initiative.

    The following is an extract from the link below: "SeniorLab began its work in 2008 based on the premise that if the retired population continued to develop interesting activities in a productive manner, state of mind and overall health of this population segment would rise and thus, relieve some of the pressure on the pension system. According to a study done by the SeniorLab project, innovation is the natural source of employment for people over 55 years, according to various panels done with experts and companies, as well as with senior citizens. According to the same study, if only half of the adult Spanish population would like to continue working after retirement, this would mean would mean that an “army” of 2.4 million people would be willing to work in their area after retirement. And it would be nearly five million who would like to work in some other activity."

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