Agri Practices & Rural Development

Agricultural practices & Rural development: the role of assumptions in the innovation processes of Living Labs


Bringing together the Rural LLs community, this workshop is hosted in collaboration with DG AGRI – Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Commission. DG AGRI’s main interest in the LL methodology is on its capacity to trigger quick change in either:

  •  I. Agricultural practices (in the direction of greater sustainability); or
  • II. Rural development (new business creation, development of services etc.). In this workshop, both of these branches are explored in a joint creative thinking workshop.

Through the Living Lab approach, we can create experimentation spaces in which farmers, in partnership with scientists, advisors and sometimes citizens, can test and develop new practices or new ways to manage their farms, or groups of farms that in the end are good for them but also better for the environment or for society. At the same time, we recognize the fact that in a workshop setting the discussion on the real needs of the users, and for that matter the points of view of the different stakeholders involved, are likely riddled with assumptions. Living Labs, as such, are constantly working closely together with these stakeholders in ensuring that their practices are based on what these stakeholders really think, feel, say and do – rather than basing their innovation processes on assumptions. In this workshop, we focus on the common pitfalls of assumptions, and the way in which they can divert our thinking in producing what is already expected by our common pre determined ideas.


This workshop focuses on the issue of innovation being produced in great numbers on a daily basis, while only a few are truly addressing the right needs of the users – from consumers to practitioners. Our aim will be to try to share knowledge and experience from previous activities and to jointly create an approach for successful support towards radical innovation in agriculture.

Bringing together the practitioners – LLs working in the field – we are creating a space for sharing knowledge and expertise on innovation that is truly validated by end-users, leading to a much higher chance for market success. We truly believe that an innovation regardless of the field, requires tight development and fine tuning with (or sometimes by) end-users. By exploring the role of assumptions in this workshop, the importance of true engagement of the stakeholders involved is highlighted.

At the same time, through an assumption reversal exercise, the power of letting go of our predetermined ideas in a creative exercise aims to open up a new world of possibilities and ideas for future development.

wing participants to create unexpected solutions to solve the reversed assumption challenges.


Starting with the introductory presentations, participants are provided with an overview of different ongoing agricultural Living Lab projects, thematic focus areas of agri LLs and DG-AGRI, as well as posed with six questions that are current in the field.

  Through the assumptions exercise, participants are given the opportunity to share their own experiences in the chosen topic, discussing assumptions that they have faced or even made throughout their journeys as Living Labs – learning from each other’s experiences.

  The assumptions reversal exercise, where one assumption is chosen to be turned upside-down, will prompt creative thinking in creating unexpected and innovative ideas for solutions to solve the reversed assumption challenge. Often ideas emerging from such exercises have elements which can be taken up seriously – even if the initial prompt should be crazy, such creative exercises lead to unconventional ideas and more radical thinking towards radical innovation.


Assumptions and assumptions reversal tools are a common element in many
methodologies such as Design Thinking, Agile, User-centered design, Foresight etc.
The session will begin with an introduction to the workshop and the different challenges that are posed at the 6 different tables. Each table will pose a question, based on a current ongoing project in the field:

Table 1: (Agricultural practices) PA4ALL 
How can the introduction of new technologies to school children create new digital skills for future farmers?

Table 2: (Rural development) PA4ALL 
How can we democratize agrifood innovation through reward crowdfunding?

Table 3: (Rural development) Guadalinfo 

How can we redefine rurality and shift the thinking from talking about bringing opportunities to rural areas, to visualizing the rural areas as an opportunity? Co-creating a new Rurality.

Table 4: (Rural development)  LIVERUR
How we could plan, design, test and evaluate the active involvement of the main actors of the Quadruple Helix model (government, education, entrepreneurs, social community) in the whole value chain of the rural and peri-urban innovation?

Table 5: (Rural development)  LIVERUR 
How the emerging technologies (IoT, Big Data, AI, Blockchain, robotics, AR, VR etc.) influence, replaces or disrupts the existing practices in the rural (circular and shared) economy by the support of the Living Lab instrument?

Table 6: (Agricultural practices) Wellant

How can we upgrade the cross sectoral cooperation between 4 helix regarding transdisciplinary challenges on agriculture/water /livebale cities to viable bussiness cases

Table 7: (Agricultural practices) Wellant

How do we create the transit path from governmental policy to actual change in behavior among citizens with regard to climate and sustainability in agriculture?


The assumption exercise will collect experiences and assumptions based on the questions posed at each table, utilizing a quadruple helix stakeholder template that indicates a color for each stakeholder type – ensuring that assumptions are considered from the various points of view.

The assumption reversal exercise that follows will prompt creative thinking in allowing participants to create unexpected solutions to solve the reversed assumption challenges.



Living Lab

Workshop Facilitators

Milica Trajković

Head of Business Development Department at BioSense Institute, PA4ALL