The European Commission’s annual Innovation Convention aims to create an innovation-friendly environment that makes it easier for great ideas to be turned into products and services that will bring our economy growth and jobs. The two-day convention held in Brussels provided a platform to debate and inform policies that will contribute towards building a strong research and innovation eco-system in Europe.


The European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) organised a fringe session during the Innovation Convention titled Open Innovation and Living Labs shaping the cities and regions of the future. This interactive session explored how living labs are supporting and can support cities and regions in embracing new technologies while facing today’s main societal challenges.

A number of international speakers joined the session: Jarmo Eskelinen (CEO, Forum Virium Helsinki), Prof. Pieter Ballon (Director Living Labs and coordinator of Smart Cities, iMinds), Prof. Alvaro Oliveira (CEO, Alfamicro and MyNeighbourhood Coordinator), Georges Niland (Policy Advisor, EUROCITIES), Artur Serra (Deputy Director, i2CAT) and others.

The session was greatly enriched by Prof. Alvaro Oliveira (picture below) who presented the case of Lisbon & Human Smart Cities. A major highlighted problem in our cities is that of isolation and social exclusion so if we really want to create bottom-up innovation we need to facilitate citizen participation.


Technology is a great tool and in the case of a human smart city should be used to connect and engage governments and citizens.

Prof. Oliveira illustrated this scenario by presenting MyNeighbourhood, a project that considers the neighbourhood scale the most promising one in creating smart cities as it already proved in the past to be effective creating healthy, secure, liveable and happy cities.

MyNeighbourhood works using the “win” methodology – working with the Wishes, Interests & Needs of the citizens and empowers them in the co-creation of new city services. Interaction is key in building a human smart city and creating interdependency and connectivity between people and their places helps make this interaction even more possible. It is therefore important to take the virtual community and transfer it to a human physical community to further strengthen the interactions between citizens.

Prof Oliveira closed by highlighting that in order to guarantee the success of the smart city movement it is important to ensure the convergence of existing policy mechanisms.


The session closed with a dynamic question and answer session with the audience where they were keen to discover more about the concrete city examples given during the presentations & also learn about the roles universities had to play in building smart cities and their collaboration with living labs.

Videos of the presentations are available here and the slides are also available here.

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