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Background

According to la 27e Région and Nesta,  there are 65 Policy Labs across Europe and over 100 worldwide. Policy Labs are dedicated teams developing public policy using innovative methods involving all stakeholders in the design process. Policy Labs are contributing to the EU objective to reinstate the legitimacy of policy-making through greater citizen engagement.
 
Similar approaches are also being used by Living Labs to engage users in jointly developing new products and services in communities and for enterprise. The European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) estimates that there are over 400 Living Labs worldwide with around 360 in Europe.
 
In France, Design for Europe has mobilised a large network of actors across Policy Labs and Living Labs to engage citizens and users in jointly developing their own solutions. 
 
“The design and living lab communities have not always been in close contact. The first challenge in collaboration was to find a jargon-free common language between academia, business and design. As a result of developing guidance and methodologies on design 23 experiments were successfully conducted to support businesses to develop new products, services and solutions that are ‘fit for all’. Being Design for Europe Ambassadors was a way for us to capitalise on the results and further share good practices.”
Dr Isabelle Vérilhac, Head of Business and Innovation, Cité du design, Design for Europe Ambassador, France
 
Building on the success of IDeALL, Design for Europe was able to draw together a larger network of stakeholders active in labs focused on innovation in both the private and public sectors including ENoLL – the European Network of Living Labs, La 27e Région and Nesta as partners and Cité du design, Issy Média and Brie'Nov as Ambassadors.

We would like to use digital technologies to help people to improve their behaviours, particularly on mobility, and let them understand the advantage that a better use of existing services can have on their daily lives.

Matteo Satta, EU Project Manager, Issy Média part of the City of Issy, Design for Europe Ambassador, France

 “There is a big drive in France to move to digital public services and design thinking plays a huge role in that. Issy works through Living Labs methodologies to shape services on people’s needs and involve them in jointly developing solutions. We are currently working on mobility solutions project, called So Mobility, that works on an Open Innovation and Living Lab basis. It is fundamental to engage citizens in the services and solutions shaping process. We would like to use digital technologies to help people to improve their behaviours, particularly on mobility, and let them understand the advantage that a better use of existing services can have on their daily lives.”
Matteo Satta, EU Project Manager, Issy Média part of the City of Issy, Design for Europe Ambassador, France

How Design for Europe helped

Through Design for Europe, La 27e Région, an action-tank on public policies ran two workshops, Immersion in Public Design in Paris June 2015 and Lab Builders in Marseilles in June 2016. Immersion in Public Design connected public authorities from France to national and international experts. The participants created project journeyswhich enabled them to identify bottlenecks and pitfalls as well as routes to effective and inclusive public engagement in the policy process.

Building capacity for design within these labs is fundament because design is a human-centred process and at their core public services and policies must correspond to the desires, aspirations and needs of citizens.

Stéphane Vincent, director, la 27e Région, action-tank on public policies, France

 
“As in many other fields, labs have become seen as a silver bullet for change in public administrations and governments. According to Nesta, there are over 100 local, regional or national governments around the world with public service or policy labs. But the question is how many will survive, provoke real change and remain disruptive in the long term? Government labs represent a safe space to innovate, experiment, fail and reconstruct public services and public policies. Building capacity for design within these labs is fundament because design is a human-centred process and at their core public services and policies must correspond to the desires, aspirations and needs of citizens.”
Stéphane Vincent, director, la 27e Région, action-tank on public policies, France
 
The two-day workshop brought together the three stakeholder groups: Lab Experts - those with experience of government labs,  Lab Builders - governments and organisations in the process of setting up innovation labs, and Lab Explorers - governments and do-tanks hoping to establish public innovation labs. This was the second gathering of Labs under Design for Europe examining internal and external public administration processes.

Our cooperation with Design for Europe, ENoLL and the association of rural mayors of France has allowed us to test and transmit technical design methods. We work more precisely on mobility issues. It opens a real opportunity for exchanges and co-construction, especially between the public and private sectors.

Didier Galet, President of Brie'Nov, Design for Europe Ambassador, France

 
“It was not only a workshop but also a ‘walk-shop’ where participants conducted fieldwork on public services provisions in the city of Marseilles. This culminated in a benchmarking exercise to exchange good practices and cross fertilise but to preserve richness and acknowledge diversity and not to uniform the Labs.”
Francois Jegou, SDS - Strategic Design Scenarios, Belgium
 
"Building on the concept of Living Labs, Brie'Nov is a network of stakeholders in Seine-et-Marne aimed at finding solutions to territorial development especially in rural areas. Our cooperation with Design for Europe, ENoLL and the association of rural mayors of France has allowed us to test and transmit technical design methods. We work more precisely on mobility issues. It opens a real opportunity for exchanges and co-construction, especially between the public and private sectors".
Didier Galet, President of Brie'Nov, Design for Europe Ambassador, France

Outcome

Design for Europe was able to create traction in France by empowering local networks and building capacity for public sector innovation through design. 
 
“The significant impact of Design for Europe has been community building. The two workshops have strengthened the national and international community of local, regional and national governments, labs, professional designers, researchers and think/do tanks. The value of knowledge sharing should not be underestimated. The workshops established a ‘state-of-the-art’ in public design labs including controversies and solutions to overcome them. Governments at the early stages of the design process have really benefited including the City of Paris, City of Lille and French Ministry of Environment in particular.”
Stéphane Vincent, director, La 27e Région, action-tank on public policies, France

With the multitude of expertise throughout the Design for Europe network, we have been able to integrate design methods into the Living Lab practices of ENoLL members.

Paolo Aversano, Development Manager, ENoLL - European Network of Living Labs

 
“With the multitude of expertise throughout the Design for Europe network, we have been able to integrate design methods into the Living Lab practices of ENoLL members. We have been able to connect ENoLL members to design expertise in particular business sectors to drive competiveness and change.”
Paolo Aversano, Development Manager, ENoLL - European Network of Living Labs
 
Design for Europe, through the work of La 27e Region, Nesta, Cite du Design and ENoLL, was able to introduce local and regional governments in France as well as small businesses and social enterprises to new design methods actively involving their core stakeholder groups, citizens or customers, in jointly developing and testing solutions.