imec iLab.o


Pieter Ballon, Director Living Labs


imec iLab.o, 
Pleinlaan 9,
1050 Brussels,


imec iLab.o is a test and experimentation platform in Flanders, Belgium, that performs Living Lab research for achieving policy and business goals using stakeholder co-design. It is part of iMinds VZW and works closely with its Digital Society Department. It offers innovators a representative test user panel of over 10,000 users, a dedicated Living Lab back office platform, business model simulation tools and application prototyping expertise. It also hosts at its premises the International Secretariat of the European Netork of Living Labs.


Description of Concept

The concept of imec-iLab.o is to achieve business and societal innovation related to ICT, using an iterative model of stakeholder co-design. iLab.o was established in 2005 as a nucleus for open innovation activities and as a repository of relevant knowledge and expertise. It sets up, coordinates, facilitates and carries out Living Lab research using various Living Lab settings. Our real-life settings for testing and experimenting include the free Brussels campus WiFi mesh network, an experimental Fiber-to-the-Home network in Kortrijk, a number of urban neighbourhoods in Ghent, and a large mobile app community in Flanders.

Our objective is to overcome systemic failures in the innovation process by involving users at an early stage of the development phase, and by creating a trusted environment where small as well as large business stakeholders can meet, and test out innovative products, services and business models.

We use the idea of stygmergic prototyping for this. We also provide a platform for constructive technology assessment and for exploring societal and policy goals related to ICT innovation.

Living Labs are about communities of end-users and producers in a real-life setting. Since ICT technologies are becoming ever more pervasive and mobile, contextual factors are key to Future Internet and Future Media innovation. This is the core of the iLab.o Smart City concept, which we apply in areas such as mobility, energy, health and care, media, e-government and inclusion.


References and Track Record

iMinds iLab.o (BE) is part of iMinds VZW and works closely with the Digital Society Department, a Business, User and Policy Research collaboration between the Free University of Brussels and the University of Ghent in Belgium. iMinds iLab.o was selected in the First Wave of European Living Labs in 2006. It has set up and supports a large number of Living Labs in Belgium, ranging from Fibre to the Home Networks, Cross-media labs,service platforms, electric vehicles, etc…

iMinds itself unites more than 1000 researchers and involves the entire Flemish media and ICT business community. The research includes technological research on networks, devices and content, together with research on user practices, domestication, usability, adoption, business modelling and regulation. iMinds also focuses strongly on supporting idea owners and businesses to introduce their innovations to the market through training, business bootcamps, seed funding programs, co-working areas, an incubation programme, international exchange programmes and more.

iMinds iLab.o's track record and experience are built on a decade of Living Lab pioneering work: from the first Living Lab test of interactive digital television in 2003, to the world-first Living Lab testing of an eReader device with e-ink technology in 2004, to the first national Living Lab

television services and Living Lab for interactive mobile medical monitoring in 2007. Mobile smartphone-based services were tested and developed in collaboration with i-City, and this Living Lab, also a First Wave ENoLL graduate, was integrated into IBBT iLab.o in 2009.

More recently, iMinds-iLab.o has coordinated the successful Apollon EU Pilot Project (ended in May 2012), is coordinating the EPIC EU Pilot, and participates in high profile projects like SmartIP, the Future Internet PPP-

Coordination and Support Action Concord and the new Project SPECIFI, promoting a Creative Ring for enabling Creative Industries