Living Labs Sport and Exercise

Does your municipality face a societal problem that it cannot solve? Then a living lab can provide a solution. This is a creative and innovative way for professionals to work together with citizens and come up with solutions for societal issues. Would you like to know how to set up such a lab, and about the experiences within the living labs?

What is a 'living lab sport and exercise'?

A living lab is an approach to more effectively realise innovations that contribute to solving societal problems. Living labs are successful because the most important stakeholders work together in these. The multiplicity of knowledge and experience, especially that of the user, ensures a flywheel effect. The partners in a living lab strive to realise a common goal by joining forces and, in doing so, act in the interest of the user, who is one of the partners in the collaboration. Co-creation with the user is therefore one of the most important elements in this approach, in combination with a real-life setting in which the innovation process takes place. Consequently, the activities of a living lab take place in neighbourhoods, communities, institutions or organisations where the user lives, works, participates in sports and exercises.

Such a living lab can comprise government bodies, knowledge institutions, civil society partners and companies.

13 living labs sport and exercise

ZonMw and Sportinnovator fund 13 living labs within the programme Living Labs Sport and Exercise. Curious about the labs?

living labs in kaart
These living labs are a great example of how universities of applied sciences, local organisations and citizens can work together successfully and effectively to get more people to exercise.
Geri Bonhof, topteam Sportinnovator

A living lab always contains the following elements:

  • A joint challenge: you determine the challenges of the lab together with the network.
  • A lynchpin: the lab director is the lynchpin between all parties in the network.
  • A diverse range of partners in its network: a highly diverse range of partners must be present in the network of a living lab. This ensures that all groups are involved and that the lab reflects society.
  • High involvement of the partners: if the partners invest a lot of time and energy in the lab, that keeps the collaboration vibrant.
  • Co-creation: creating something with all people involved, so also the people who will soon make use of the innovation.
  • Work in everyday practice: as experimentation takes place in everyday practice, the idea can be immediately tested in society. This is how a living lab differs from a field or university lab.
  • Different working methods and strategies: a living lab searches for solutions to problems that occur in a specific environment; therefore, the various problems and environments require different working methods and strategies.

Network of living labs

The 13 living labs, together with 5 living labs from the G5, form the Network Living Labs Sport and Exercise. This is a self-learning network that regularly comes together to exchange experiences and help each other. It is supported by ZonMw and Sportinnovator.

In the magazine “Living labs innovating together in sport and exercise” [link - in Dutch] you can read, for example, about the lessons learned and get tips and tools for setting up a living lab.

In addition, a training has been developed for setting up a living lab.

Would you like to set up a living lab in your municipality?
Learn from the experiences within the living labs sport and exercise. In the article Living labs: the answer to sport and exercise questions in your municipality?, you can read about the approach and how this can help you with sport and exercise issues within your municipality.

The lab director: facilitator of innovation

The Living Labs Sport and Exercise all have a lab director from a municipality or university of applied sciences. A lab director is a facilitator of innovation who actively supports the network of a living lab. The lab director puts the problem on the agenda of the different network partners. The involved parties need to become aware that there is a shared problem, and they all need to be convinced that they can contribute to solving this challenge. The task of the lab director is to connect the parties involved in this process.

Relevant Articles

Living lab Vinkhuizen: making neighborhood more exercise-friendly

How do you get people in socially deprived neighborhoods to exercise? That often proves difficult. In Vinkhuizen it worked. Berry van Holland talks about the approach in the magazine Binnenlands Bestuur. Read more here.

Living lab Haarlem is committed to more sports participation among pre-vocational secondary education students and practical school students

Various organizations are working together in the Sports and Exercise Lab project 'Via pre-vocational secondary education and practical education towards suitable sports on offer in the neighbourhood' to increase the participation of this group. Read more here.

Impact of the living lab Lingewaard

The aim of this living lab is to contribute to the quality of life in the villages of Doornenburg, Haalderen and Gendt with vital sports parks and associated open clubs. What social benefits has this living lab yielded? Read more here.

Unique hiking challenge in the Achterhoek

In the unique Achterhoek walking challenge, the participants have already walked around the world 3 times! They do this with the help of the Ommetje walking app from the Hersenstichting and encouraged by a competitive element. How did this initiative of the living lab 'vital employee in the Achterhoek' of the Hogeschool Arnhem and Nijmegen become such a success? Read more here.

This is how you create a social business model

Various parties, each with their own interests, work together in the living labs for sport and exercise. How do you define a concrete shared goal, with everyone in the right role? Completing a social business case – a purpose case – helps to gain insight into each other's position. This way you strengthen your local network and cooperation. Read more here.

Living Lab Exercise Friendly Vinkhuizen focuses on support and network

The municipality wanted to get started with the exercise-friendly environment. The project team asked the participants what they would like and how they could be helped to achieve this. But did the residents want to exercise more? Project leader Berry van Holland of Hanze University tells more about it. Read more here.