Special issue on “Living Labs and Collaborative Innovation”

The Special Issue is dedicated to the further development of the conceptual and theoretical foundations of living labs —including those adopted by the private sector, the public sector, and universities. Living labs are increasingly popular forms of innovation (Greve et al., 2020, 2021; Leminen et al., 2012; Ballon et al., 2018; Schuurman et al., 2019). They are platforms with shared resources, which organize their stakeholders into collaboration networks that rely on representative governance, participation, open standards, and diverse activities and methods to gather, create, communicate, and deliver new knowledge, validated solutions, professional development, and social impact in real-life contexts (Westerlund et al., 2018; Paskaleva & Cooper, 2021). As open innovation intermediaries, living labs link the domains of open and user innovation and consist of three distinct, but intertwined levels of analysis: the living lab organization, living lab projects, and user and stakeholder involvement activities (Schuurman, 2015).

Living labs have been documented to develop innovations and integrate innovativeness and resources for benefits of diverse stakeholder in cities (Nyström et al., 2014; Leminen & Westerlund, 2019;) and to provide environmental and social improvements (Hossain et al., 2019; Nevens et al., 2013, Voytenko et al., 2016). Hence public and private sector living labs play a crucial role in promoting innovation in different ecosystems, industries, and sectors (Gascó, 2017; Shin, 2019). Living labs are also seen as places where innovations take place (Bergvall-Kåreborn et al., 2015; Della Santa et al., 2022). In an urban context, studies view a city and its neighbourhoods as platforms that enhance diverse forms of innovation (Leminen et al., 2017), especially where stakeholders such as municipalities and companies open their data, needs, and operation to boost innovativeness and urban development (Leminen et al., 2020). Likewise, in rural, environmental, and agricultural contexts, living labs are increasingly seen as a way to accelerate the co-creation and adoption of innovations, promote sustainability, and facilitate system transitions (Zavratnik et al., 2019; Gamache et al., 2020; McPhee, et al., 2021; Beaudoin et al., 2022)

For this special issue, we seek both qualitative and quantitative papers, including conceptual papers that clarify and explore the foundations of living labs. All manuscript should include implications for both researchers and practitioners including the public sector (financiers, universities, policy makers, etc.), the private sector (innovators, entrepreneurs, SMEs, large companies, etc.), and user communities.

Topics of interest

Possible topics include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Theoretical insights from living lab research
  • Living labs as innovation ecosystems and networks
  • User-driven and user-centric innovation in living labs
  • Stakeholder orchestration of living labs
  • Disclosure of data, needs, and operations to promote innovation in living labs
  • Boosters and drivers of innovation in living labs
  • Scales and instruments for the measurement of living labs benefits
  • Metrics and key measures for the analysis of living labs
  • Openness and closedness in living lab networks
  • Living labs and other forms of collaborative innovations
  • Innovation paradoxes in living labs
  • Change processes in living labs
  • Other living lab topics related to policy, information technology, government, and the public

Paper development and submission

This special issue is an initiative of the International Society of Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM) Special Interest Group on Living Labs, which is co-led by the guest editors. Authors are invited to submit their original work to the living lab track at the ISPIM Innovation Conference 2023 (4–7 June, Ljubljana, Slovenia). [http://conference.ispim.org/] according to the timeline below. Submissions not have appeared in, or be under consideration by, other journals. Initial submissions should follow the guidelines of ISPIM conference outlines. Authors of the living lab track that are selected for further development will be invited to submit a full paper version to the Journal of Innovation Management.

Participation at the ISPIM 2023 conference is not obligatory but strongly encouraged as there will be Living Lab sessions linked to this special issue of the Journal of Innovation Management. All submitted papers will undergo a double-blind peer review.


Interested authors should note the following timetable for the Special Issue:

October 31, 2023:
Deadline for submitting manuscripts to Journal of Innovation Management

Special Issue Guest Editors: Professor Seppo Leminen (University of South-Eastern Norway), dr. Dimitri Schuurman (imec), Chris McPhee (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada).

Questions: Please contact Seppo Leminen: seppo.leminen@usn.no

Submissions should follow JIM guidelines and should be done through the platform, www.open-jim.org

Seppo Leminen is Drammen City Municipality chaired (Full) Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the USN School of Business at the University of South-Eastern Norway in Norway, an Adjunct Professor of Business Development at Aalto University in Finland and an Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University in Canada. He holds a doctoral degree in Marketing from the Hanken School of Economics and a doctoral degree in Industrial Engineering and Management in the School of Science at Aalto University. He is an Area Editor in Techovation. His current research topics includes digital business models and ecosystems (cf. 5G, Autonomous Solutions, Internet of Things), robotics, block chains, living labs, innovation ecosystems, collaborative and networked models of innovations, as well as management and marketing models for different types of companies. Results from his research have been reported in Industrial Marketing Management, the Journal of Cleaner Production, the Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, the Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Management Decision, the International Journal of Innovation Management, the Technological Forecasting and Social Change, and the Technology Innovation Management Review, among many others.

As an innovation expert, Dimitri Schuurman, is responsible for innovation methodology and monitoring in the digital transformation department at imec. He holds a PhD in innovation management in Living Labs from Ghent University (UGent) and the Free University of Brussels (VUB) in Belgium. Together with his imec colleagues, Dimitri developed a specific Innovation Management methodology with supporting innovation canvasses (under the label ‘Innovatrix’), specifically designed for multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary innovation projects. He also leads a special interest group on Living Labs in the International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM) and is active in the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) as a Living Labs specialist. His main interests and research topics are in the areas of open innovation, user innovation and innovation management. Dimitri is a regular keynote speaker at events on the topics of Living Labs and Innovation Management.

Chris McPhee is an Innovation Management Specialist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, where he supports a nationwide network of living labs through the Agricultural Climate Solutions program and the Living Laboratories Initiative. These two programs apply an integrated approach to agricultural innovation by bringing together farmers, scientists, and other partners to co-develop, test, and monitor new practices and technologies in a real-life context. Prior to this role, he served for nine years as Editor-in-Chief of the Technology Innovation Management Review, an international journal focusing on emerging topics in innovation from a multidisciplinary perspective, and through which he published 9 special issues on Living Labs and nearly 100 articles by leading living labs researchers and managers from around the world. In Canada and Scotland, he has held various innovation-related roles in the private sector, the public sector, and academia, primarily in the areas of education, healthcare, and science. His areas of interest include living labs, open innovation, entrepreneurship, participatory and action research, knowledge mobilization, and the human and social dimensions of innovation. Chris holds an MASc degree in Technology Innovation Management from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and BScH and MSc degrees in Biology (Plant Ecology) from Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.


Ballon, P., Van Hoed, M., & Schuurman, D. (2018). The effectiveness of involving users in digital innovation: Measuring the impact of living labs. Telematics and Informatics, 35(5), 1201–1214.

Beaudoin, C. Joncoux, S., Jasmin, J.-F., Berberi, A., McPhee, C., Schillo, R.S., Nguyen, V.M. (2022). A research agenda for evaluating living labs as an open innovation model for environmental and agricultural sustainability. Environmental Challenges, 7, 100505.

Bergvall-Kåreborn, B., Ihlström Eriksson, C., Ståhlbröst, A. (2015). Places and Spaces within Living Labs. Technology Innovation Management Review, 5(12), 37–47.

Della Santa, S., Tagliazucchi, G., & Marchi, G. (2022). How does the space influence Living Labs? Evidence from two automotive experiences. R&D Management.

Gamache, G., Anglade, J., Feche, R., Barataud, F., Mignolet, C., Coquil, X. Can living labs offer a pathway to support local agri-food sustainability transitions? (2020). Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 37, 93–107.

Gascó, M. (2017). Living labs: Implementing open innovation in the public sector. Government Information Quarterly, 34(1), 90-98.

Greve, K., De Vita, R., Leminen, S., & Westerlund, M. (2021). Living Labs: From niche to mainstream innovation management. Sustainability. 13(2), 791.

Greve, K., Leminen, S., De Vita, R., & Westerlund, M. (2020). Unveiling the diversity of scholarly debate on living labs: A bibliometric approach. International Journal of Innovation Management. 24(8), 2040003-1- 2040003-25.

Hossain, M., Leminen, S., & Westerlund, M. (2019). A Systematic Review of Living Lab Literature. Journal of Cleaner Production. 213, 976–988.

Leminen, S., Nyström, A.-G., & Westerlund, M. (2020). Change processes in open innovation networks – exploring living labs. Industrial Marketing Management. 91, 701–718.

Leminen, S., Westerlund, M., & Nyström A.-G. 2012. Living Labs as Open Innovation Networks, Technology Innovation Management Review, 2(9), 6–11.

Leminen, S., Rajahonka, M., & Westerlund, M. (2017). Towards Third-Generation Living Lab Networks in Cities. Technology Innovation Management Review. 7(11), 21–35.

Leminen, S., & Westerlund, M. (2019). Living labs: From Scattered Initiatives to Global Movement. Creativity and Innovation Management. 28(2), 250–264.

McPhee, C., Bancerz, M., Mambrini-Doudet, M., Chrétien, F., Huyghe, C., Gracia-Garza, J. (2021). The Defining Characteristics of Agroecosystem Living Labs. Sustainability, 13, 1718.

Nevens, F., Frantzeskaki, N., Gorissen, L., Loorbach, D. (2013). Urban Transition Labs: co-creating transformative action for sustainable cities. Journal of Cleaner Production, 50, 111–122.

Nyström, A-G, Leminen, S., Westerlund, M. & Kortelainen, M. 2014. Actor roles and role patterns influencing innovation in living labs, Industrial Marketing Management, 43(3), 483–495.

Paskaleva, K, & Cooper, I. (2021). Are living labs effective? Exploring the evidence. Technovation, 106, 102311.

Shin, D. (2019). A living lab as socio-technical ecosystem: Evaluating the Korean living lab of internet of things. Government Information Quarterly, 36(2), 264–275.

Schuurman, D. (2015). Bridging the gap between Open and User Innovation?: exploring the value of Living Labs as a means to structure user contribution and manage distributed innovation (Doctoral dissertation, Ghent University & the Free University of Brussels).

Schuurman, D., Herregodts, A. L., Georges, A., & Rits, O. (2019). Innovation Management in Living Lab Projects: The Innovatrix Framework. Technology Innovation Management Review, 9(3), 63–73.

Voytenko, Y., McCormick, K., Evans, J., Schliwa, G. (2016). Urban living labs for sustainability and low carbon cities in Europe: Towards a research agenda. Journal of Cleaner Production, 123, 45–54.

Westerlund, M., Leminen, S., & Rajahonka, M. (2018). A Topic Modeling Analysis of Living Labs Research. Technology Innovation Management Review. 8(7), 40–51.

Zavratnik, V., Superina, A., Duh, E. (2019). Living Labs for Rural Areas: Contextualization of Living Lab Frameworks, Concepts and Practices. Sustainability, 11(14), 3797.