Living Lab in health and the quadruple helix

If there is one thing we have learned after many years of developing innovative projects in the field of e-Health, it is the importance of user involvement in the creation process. 

When from a technological company like Insati we face a new challenge in the health field, we realise that we dedicate a great part of our efforts to identify those disruptive technologies that will make the new development unique and differential. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Robotics, Virtual Reality, BigData, Quantum Computing,… are some of the technological trends that, in one way or another, we try to accommodate in the different proposals. 

In part, this situation is motivated by the need to justify in the different calls for R&D the novelty of the project with respect to the state of technological art, something that sometimes makes us lose the focus of what should prevail over the other factors: The value proposal that we offer to the final user.

The concept of the triple helix, understood as the participation in the innovation process of the university, companies and governments, is something that has been applied for years in R&D&I projects in the European sphere. It has been proven that the combination of the knowledge of these three agents means that the impact of the projects is significantly greater than that obtained from an idea arising exclusively within an organisation. However, the main actor around which the whole project should revolve is still missing: the users

It is in this scenario that the paradigm of the quadruple helix emerges, understood as a model of open innovation in which the university, governments, companies and people participate collaboratively. A model of teamwork where collaboration and the exchange of ideas is encouraged by applying methodologies such as Design Thinking.

That is why in Insati we have been trying for years to incorporate users during our creation process, as for example in the Avecen project, which we have the invaluable collaboration of organisations such as AFAGA, APROPARK or Parkinson Galicia-Coruña

This need takes on great importance in a sector such as healthcare, where the success of products necessarily depends on the acceptance of users, especially those with greater difficulties in making use of the technology, such as the elderly or users with functional diversity.

In order to effectively apply this model, Living Labs have been created, which are open innovation ecosystems centred on the user and based on a systematic approach of co-creation by the user, integrating research and innovation processes into real-life communities and environments. 

For this reason, initiatives such as the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) or the Galician Network of Healthcare Living Labs (LABSAÚDE), which provide facilities for co-creation and user participation, have become instruments of great value for the innovation ecosystem.

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