Under the H2020 BRIDGE-BS project, three rounds of Living Labs will be held in the pilot sites of the BRIDGE-BS project.

Living Labs are one of the innovative aspects of the BRIDGE-BS project that embraces multi-method approaches with interactive and participatory methodologies. The BRIDGE-BS Living Labs are designed to develop strategies to prepare the society for innovative social solutions and identify Blue Growth opportunities focusing on stakeholder engagement.

The Living Labs are necessary for regional ecosystem innovation and are defined as “user-centered, open innovation ecosystems” based on a systematic user co-creation approach integrating research and innovation processes in real-life communities and settings. In practice, Living Labs place the citizen at the center of innovation, allowing bottom-up policy coherence to be reached, starting from the needs and aspirations of local and regional stakeholders. The Living Labs enable the integration, validation, and investigation of research results from the scientific analysis on the problem under research: “Advancing Black Sea Research and Innovation to Co-Develop Blue Growth within Resilient Ecosystems.”

The BRIDGE-BS Living Labs will serve as an instrument to empower local communities in terms of the sustainable management of the Black Sea, breaking sectoral silos, and ensuring a systemic approach. Furthermore, they create a new local participative dynamic to explore alternative forms of governance as well as being a focal point for greater interconnection between physical and socio-economic sciences. All the facilities of Living Labs and their objective to bring together business operators from the coastal and maritime sectors, interest groups, scientific experts, and local responsible administrations reinforce the interdisciplinary characteristic of BRIDGE-BS.

Living Labs will be operated on the Pilot Sites located in the selected regions from BRIDGE-BS partners’ countries. They will be coordinated by AUEB and local pilot site leaders, creating a meaningful space for connections and knowledge exchange between the scientific and local communities. Various tools, including role play, decision support tools, system innovation tools, participative scenarios, will enhance the inter-actor exchanges, create a learning loop, raise awareness on ecosystem services and their multi-stressors. It is expected to stimulate a thinking “out of the box”, develop trust and collaborations, to foster the adoption and implementation of innovative eco-solutions through the high level of interactions of society, science, and sectoral institutions.

The Living Labs implementation start with a stakeholders mapping and analysis exercise in order to select stakeholders’ group representative who will participate in the living labs activities within the project. The activities to be implemented within the LLs will be identified based on project objectives, challenges, impacts, and expected outputs, making use of knowledge visualization tools to support the exploration of the different perspectives, knowledge exchange across communities (business, academia, policymakers, civil society). The Living Labs are intended to provide the freedom and a “safe” place for the representatives to co-identify challenges, risks, and opportunities, explore innovative ideas, co-develop pathway(s) towards a common desirable future.