Two Living Labs at the European Commission

Living Labs at the Joint Research Centre: the European Commission’s Testbed for Smart Energy and Mobility Solutions


   Various services of the European Commission promote Living Labs and have them associated to their work. However, within the Commission there has been little overall coordination on Living Labs as a modality for policy design and implementation. The Joint Research Centre, the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, is now opening two of its research campuses to third parties interested in co-creating Living Labs for two selected smart city application areas: transport and energy. The two campuses – located in Ispra, Italy and Petten, The Netherlands – effectively simulate urban environments given the large number of staff, buildings, roads and utilities on the two sites, combined with the scientific expertise of some 1 500 researchers, dedicated experimental facilities and high-speed communication networks. Both sites embrace a technology oriented culture and receive high numbers of visits from leading scientists, policy-makers and thought leaders from all over the world.


The workshop will introduce the context of the living labs at the Joint Research Centre, their objectives and the potential outcomes. Then, it will address two issues where there is the need to advance:

– How to link up and animate various thematic living labs in Europe as a multisite testbed for  European policy, thus scaling up from local to global (i.e. EU) level.

– How to best use the Joint Research Centre’s sites for facilitating and speeding up the energy and mobility transition to smart cities by employing these locations for both demonstration and training.


   By attending this workshop, participants will get awareness of the strategic role of the JRC in the provision of technical and scientific support to the European Commission’s partner DGs for the conception, development and implementation of the policies of the European Union.

  In particular, with its strategic position at the interface between policy making and academia, its open policy and unique infrastructure, the JRC can act as ideal living lab to support the conceptualisation and development of future urban ecosystems.

 Participants will discuss how the living lab at the JRC can contribute to test the effectiveness and implications of novel solutions in different sectors such as mobility, energy, security etc. 

Start-ups, SMEs and other research organisations will have the possibility to test new technologies in a real and safe environment, and can use these tests to stimulate broader discussion on the role of new solutions in shaping the future of cities.


The workshop will rely on a strong participatory approach. Because living labs are based on ideas of co-participation and co-creation, along the principles of Design Thinking, we will prioritise the interaction between experts, practitioners, academics and entrepreneurs alike as conference attendees.

 First, being the living lab projects at the Joint Research Centre relatively new born, we have a lot to learn from those who have accumulated significant experience in the field. 

Second, we are interested in understanding what are shared design strategies, criticalities and common errors, as well as how to effectively reach out to the citizens as end users of our work. 

The workshop will be structured as follows: 

1- Introduction: Presentation of the living lab projects at the JRC (work-plan and methodologies, open call for expression of interest, potential for policy making) 

2- Parallel work sessions: Participants will be divided in groups that will focus on the questions prepared by the JRC. The sessions will be facilitated and visually reported

3- Plenary discussion Presentation of the groups’ works, identification of the main outcomes of the workshop and lesson learnt.

Workshop Chair

Workshop Panelists

Stefano Tarantola

Scientific Officer at the Joint Research Centre

Joëlle Mastelic

Full professor, HES-SO, Switzerland