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ENoLL President Tuija Hirvikoski spoke at the introductury session of the workshop titled "Experimenting with Urban Living Labs (ULLs) beyond Smart City-Regions". The workshop was co-organised in partnership by the University of Oxford – Urban Transformations and VUB Brussels Centre for Urban Studies.
The workshop that took place on 13 February 2017 encouraged participants to rethink ‘urban Europe’ arond what might be seen as an experimental laboratory ‘turn’ for research and policy intervention. Urban Living Labs (ULLs), exemplified by networks such as EnoLL, foreground projects that present active user involvement, real-life settings, multi-stakeholder participation, multi-method approaches and co-creation. As a President of ENoLL, Tuija Hirvikoski weighted in on the network and co-creating methods developed in Living Labs.
Living Labs are perfect environments where research on smart specialisation strategy can be tested in a real-life environment. Governance implementations have been proposed in European cities and regions without considering appropriately the negotiations between stakeholders, multiple expectations, and possible or desirable urban futures jointly built by them. As such, ‘smart’ technological solutions have not always focused on needs and usability by citizens and at times generate a governance misalignment between the ‘experimental city’ and publics, citizens and stakeholders.
The enormous potential for experimental forms in European city-regions exists as on-going ULL initiatives under the Urban Living Partnership (Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle and York), JPI Urban Europe schemes and many international schemes such as ENOLL, Mistra Urban Futures, Urban Mechanics, Guggenheim Urban Labs, Urban Lab +, the Guanghzhou International Award for Urban Innovation, Rockefeller 100 resilient cities, GUST snapshots, urb@exp and ERC urban.
Building on the emerging body of these policy initiatives and research, the workshop "Experimenting with Urban Living Labs Beyond Smart City-Regions" brought together a group of European academics and policymakers to think through how notions of‘experimentation’ inform new ways of city working.