[This text has been written by Rosina Malagrida, co-coordinator of the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab and Head of the Living Lab for Health at IrsiCaixa, and the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab team]
One of the main goals of research and innovation is to have a significant impact on the resolution of societal challenges. In science, although applied projects are always triggered by the need to provide answers to these societal challenges, the desired impact is often not achieved. One of the main reasons for this is that often not enough effort is invested in exploring the needs and expectations of all those societal actors who are affected by the challenge and/or should contribute to this impact. It is therefore imperative that the processes of exploration, ideation, co-creation and co-implementation of research and innovation projects are carried out in a participatory and collaborative way, considering the needs and expectations of the different actors involved, including citizens.
With the aim of improving research and innovation processes to make them more participatory, collaborative and that incorporate a wide diversity of actors from inside and outside the scientific community, in November 2019 the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab was born, an initiative promoted by the Barcelona City Council and the "la Caixa" Foundation, in collaboration with the Living Lab for Health at IrsiCaixa and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). Two years later, the initiative has five challenges focused on Chagas disease, as well as food, sexual, mental and environmental health.
With the aim of improving research and innovation processes to make them more participatory, collaborative and that incorporate a wide diversity of actors from inside and outside the scientific community, in November 2019 the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab was born
The main objective of the initiative is to provide a space for intermediation between professionals from different scientific disciplines, care services, the private sector, the administration, the educational community, third sector organisations and the general public in order to provide a better response to social challenges. In this way, the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab aims to be the meeting point between science and the different social actors, and a place where the opinions of citizens and other social actors on current social challenges are gathered and responded to in a collaborative way with processes of strategic thinking, learning, exploration and co-creation of knowledge, products, interventions and other types of solutions.
Responsible Research and Innovation
This concern to increase the impact of research and innovation by promoting collaborative work between the different social actors throughout the process is being promoted by different movements, such as Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), Mission Oriented Research or System Innovation. What they all have in common is that they promote new approaches in the way research and innovation are implemented with more holistic, collaborative and inclusive processes.
These changes in the way we do research and innovation are key when we realise that the societal challenges we want to address are persistent. Often this is because their solutions must be implemented in a context that is complex and changing. And that is why Living Labs are key spaces that must guarantee continuous participatory experimentation to help find solutions with greater impact in a changing context. Incorporating citizens in health research is essential to generate sustainable advances in which the responsibility for the necessary social transformation towards healthier societies is shared by all.
The Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab aims to be the meeting point between science and the different social actors, and a place where the opinions of citizens and other social actors on current social challenges are gathered and responded to in a collaborative way
The Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab is working on five different challenges:
- Healthy and sustainable food promotion model (SSA): creation of the Fit4FoodBcn Network which, in an initial pilot, has 21 organisations to guarantee a more comprehensive model and a continuum of care and promotion of SSA from universities, hospitals, primary care centres, social and educational services, shops, professional associations and other entities and the general public.
- Affective-sexual health promotion (ASH) model: promoting the transition of the organisational model of ASH promotion to make it more effective with a systemic, collaborative and decentralised approach driven by a diversity of research centres and other types of organisations that co-create innovative solutions.
- Access to mental health for the immigrant population: creation of a collaborative space with an intercultural perspective in which diverse actors, through innovative methodologies and co-creation, devise solutions to improve access to and use of mental health services for the immigrant population.
- Access to comprehensive care for people at risk of Chagas disease: through co-creation between various community actors and with the involvement of the main specialised services, this challenge addresses the destigmatisation of the disease, the decentralisation of detection and care, and a transnational approach to the non-aetiological treatment of the disease.
- Safe and healthy school environments: developing school environments as areas of health protection, well-being and safety.