7 APOLLON pilot experiments: Lessons Learned
Also, SME solutions should be sufficiently flexible to enable the integration in the living lab ecosystem; agile approaches to prototyping and testing should be encouraged while working with a living lab. One of the conclusions of this pilot is that, for SMEs looking for internationalisation or market expansion, Living Labs should not fulfil the role of “salesman” however could act as single point of contact getting in touch with local living lab ecosystems.
Much like other pilots (energy efficiency, homecare and assisted living) the eParticipation and Social Media pilot stresses the importance of knowledge transfer to address partner’s needs and based on partners’ skills. It is proposed to set up a platform facilitating knowledge exchange and reusing existing methods and tools, and to pay more attention to training sessions as a means to transfer knowledge among partners and to develop sustainable relations.
7 APOLLON pilot experiments: Lessons Learned All pilots have identified recommendations based on their pilot evaluations. The following summarizes and integrates a number of key recommendations targeting cross-border settings and facilitating the set-up and operation of cross-border living labs networks, i.e.: 1) Apply the phasing approach contextualized to the pilot environment. Most pilots applied the general phasing model (connect, plan and engage, support and govern, manage and track) to establish a framework for research and innovation in the pilot environment. The phasing model is found very valuable to guide experimentation but always needs contextualisation to the demands of the pilot. 2) The initial “connect” phase is critical but more attention is necessary. Due to that fact that the vertical pilots started after APOLLON was approved, less attention was paid to the “connect” phase. Important decisions are taken in this phase such as partner finding, consortium building and planning of the project. Selection of the right business partners includes discussing the requirements and agreeing on solutions. Some of the difficulties experienced in the pilots later on e.g. collaboration bottlenecks can be attributed to decisions made before the actual pilot started. 3) For successful transfer and adoption, take into account “soft issues”. Such issues include trust, privacy, liability, ethics, safety, and regulatory issues when transferring a technology. This recommendation especially stems from pilot work in Homecare and independent living. Transferring a technology implies issues of acceptance and adoption in other contexts; especially in healthcare this is a key issue. The eManufacturing pilot demonstrates that transparency, trust and an easy access to any type of information - regardless if the SME is a service provider or a potential service consumer –is crucial to start running new business engagements. 4) Carefully build and maintain the living labs ecosystem. The Living Lab eco system ensures the required conditions for product or service co-development. Both Homecare and eParticipation and Social Media pilot have worked on building and maintaining the living labs ecosystem, including defining the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and partners. The roles, responsibilities, competencies and skills of living labs need specific attention as living labs fulfil a critical role in the ecosystem. Skills and competences upgrading will be necessary in many cases. The pilots demonstrate new demands to Living labs e.g. active mediating roles in the eParticipation and Social Media pilot. The eManufacturing pilot demands relying on the local Living Lab having the knowledge of and contacts to reliable local partners, having checked them before inviting them into a new business relation. 5) Define and agree on requirements at early stage. The eManufacturing pilot is an example where requirement findings is carried out in a relatively simple cross-border
project setting. More complex requirements finding processes can be found in the homecare and independent living pilot which has worked on methods supporting this process. The eParticipation and Social Media pilot recommends to Living Labs to be clear on capabilities and requirements of the product or service being tested, identify the target audience and adapt the product or service accordingly. 6) Address local adaptation and reliability of technologies as well as technology interoperability. Especially in cross border settings local testing of technologies and applications coming from elsewhere is highly important, as demonstrated by the pilots homecare, energy efficiency and eParticipation and Social Media. The Homecare pilot has elaborated a testing procedure. For eParticipation and Social Media, technical interoperability of partners’ technologies was a key issue. Close collaboration of SMEs in defining the pilot scenario is a key condition for success. SMEs should be prepared to open up and jointly evaluate technologies to find common solutions. They should be encouraged to develop APIs to facilitate third party technologies integration. 7) Address the product or service business model. Several pilots indicate that not just costs but the business model (including also the value proposition) for putting a product or service into the market is relevant. Business model issues play a role already in the early phase of cross-border projects. 8) Use low cost tools and processes to facilitate collaboration. All vertical pilots have worked with low cost communication and collaboration tools. "On-demand"-availability in order to immediately react to unexpected technical issues is often critical (e.g. for the eManufacturing pilot). Remarkably, shared collaboration workspaces have not been used much and probably some dedicated training is necessary to be offered by living labs, as part of project management procedures. It should be recommended to avoid fragmented use of tools and offer an open, common collaboration platform which has low cost tools integrated. 9) Define project planning and management procedures dedicated to cross-border settings. Explicit attention is paid to project planning, management procedures and skills in the homecare, eManufacturing and eParticipation and Social Media pilots. A sound cross-border project plan is a necessity, however it should be transparent and open for adaptation to new circumstances. As the eManufacturing pilot formulates, not just for the business side of a project but also for the technical aspects like the technology knowledge transfer, the use case implementation, the use case execution and support and maintenance - a clear structure of the cross border activities is a "must have". All means of good project management must be applied: clear roles and responsibilities, as well as agreed means and modes for communication, timelines, tracking and other issues, this helps to avoid project failures, wasting resources and disappointment. 10) Be aware of the potential need to modify the consortium composition. The eParticipation and Social Media pilot is a clear example of the need to add new partners during the pilot process. On the other hand the eManufacturing pilot had to facilitate the exit of an existing partner. So in general the consortium will change over time and early stage provisions must be made to facilitate changes in terms of budget, adaptation of IPR arrangements and other conditions. 11) Create cross-border thematic domain networks to support cross-border living labs networking. The role of WP6 together with vertical pilots has been to push development of thematic domain networks that act as wider networks bringing together living labs, SMEs and large enterprises, research institutes, authorities in a given domain. These networks establish a breeding ground of new cross-border initiatives and as a knowledgesharing environment. They bring together knowledge, insights, practices, methods and tools, skills and potential partners. They stimulate collaboration and offer services to living labs and SMEs. The spectrum of what domain specific Living Labs can cover in
order to bring SMEs faster to new markets includes a variety of services starting from governmental / legal related services up to straight technical services such as early prototyping - depending on the nature of the respective Living Lab. 12) Facilitate cross-border value creation. The SMEs - including all sub-categories from really small enterprises to mid-size enterprises - should be enabled to run trans-national businesses not just by getting the chance to trade their services to other countries via the platform but also by getting support from the Living Labs network into the direction of "to be made prepared" for establishing businesses in other countries and regions than their "own". 13) Leverage on the unique capabilities of a living labs environment of being a crossborder test bed. The pilots demonstrate the unique potential of small-scale experimentation and testing in a well-defined and “friendly” cross-border setting, before larger-scale roll-out. Such well-defined and friendly environments still can take different shapes such as the corporate living lab environment (as in Future Factory living lab) or project-based and temporary collaboration between existing living labs (eParticipation and Social Media, homecare pilots).