Creating Carleton’s Living Lab

If you happen to be wandering around the Human Computer Interaction Building on Carleton’s campus these days, you will have noticed a fair amount of activity on the 4th and 5th floors. This is Carleton University’s 7,500 sq.ft. Living Laboratory, 1125@Carleton, our newly established collaboration and innovation work space at the university. 1125@Carleton is designed to promote partnerships and collaborations across the university, across communities and across the globe with the aim of co-creating solutions for sustainable communities.

It features state-of-the-art information, computation and communication technologies (ICCTs) and offers a range of membership-based services including hot desks, offices, boardrooms, workshop space and audio/visual conferencing.

But we are more than a physical space, we are a Living Laboratory and that means the knowledge generated at 1125@Carelton is co-produced with key partners and end users. We draw on the best idea generation at the university and connect these ideas to the world. We bring in external partners who want to connect with Carleton researchers. We believe that through collaboration we can support innovations that will make a difference in our communities.

We are pleased to be a member of the largest network of Living Labs, the European Network of Living Laboratories (ENoLL). But what is a Living Lab? ENoLL defines it as a real-life test and experimentation environment where users and producers co-create innovations. There are four major areas of focus that define a living lab: co-creation, exploration, experimentation and evaluation. All four are part of the fabric of 1125@Carleton.

Carleton is known for both its community-engaged scholarship and its entrepreneurial activities. Programs such as Lead to Win (LTW) that encourages and supports student entrepreneurs across the campus, and the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (3ci) with its many community-driven initiatives, contribute to the outstanding reputation that Carleton University has built in these arenas.

However, during the consultations undertaken to develop the new five-year strategic plan at Carleton, the lack of a dedicated space to enable these activities to flourish right across the university was often raised. Kim Matheson through her Office of the Vice-President (Research and International) has answered this call and the launch of 1125@Carleton is the result.

I am pleased to have been asked to take on the position of executive director of 1125@Carleton. In my new role I am able to draw on my years of experience co-leading the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (3ci). In addition to myself, Vanessa Good-Davidson is a key part of our team and manages the 1125@Carleton facility.

Knowledge is at the core of the university and at the heart of innovation. At 3ci, we found that to be truly meaningful, knowledge production requires genuine partnerships with communities. Equally important is knowledge mobilization. Long gone are the days when knowledge could remain isolated in the ‘ivory tower’ of academia. To be effective, knowledge mobilization requires deploying not just through our own networks, but using the networks of all our partners, and in turn their networks, and so one – until the knowledge takes hold in the community at large. The advent of social media is built on this premise, and we know how effective that is. So, partners are a key requirement for 1125@Carleton’s growth and success. Indeed, one of our key metrics of success will be the number of partners that 1125@Carleton is able to attract to the university.

Our partners will be drawn from local, national and multi-national companies, as well as community groups (not-for-profits, regional development) and governments at all three levels, to provide resources and partnership opportunities to encourage entrepreneurial and inventive solutions that will make a difference. We want to capture the best ideas generated at Carleton, whether those are technologies, products, processes, services, designs, or social innovations. We want to help these ideas grow.

As you can see, 1125@Carleton is more than a physical space on campus. We are here to help grow ideas and connect them to local, national or indeed global communities and we are proud to do so under the Carleton University banner.

On Nov. 20, we will officially launch 1125@Carleton as part of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada ‘Open Doors’ event. Please join us from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for our launch. RSVP vanessa.gooddavidson@carleton.ca.

If you would like to learn more about 1125@Carleton please check out our website carleton.ca/1125/ or contact us anytime at 5th Floor HCI Building, Room 5110, call 613-520-7606 or email vanessa.gooddavidson@carleton.ca.

Tessa Hebb is the executive director of 1125@Carleton.

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