WHAT IS LIVING LAB?
A combined laboratory / household system, analysing existing product‐service‐systems as well as technical and socioeconomic influences focused on the social needs of people, aiming at the development of integrated technical and social innovations and simultaneously promoting the conditions of sustainable development (highest resource efficiency, highest user orientation, etc.).
Universities are playing an increasingly central role in advancing sustainability at the local, regional and national scale through cross-sector collaborations. Accompanying the launch of Future Earth, interest is mounting in the co-design and co-production of knowledge and solutions for advancing global sustainability, particularly in urban areas.
Therefore a new kind of user-driven, action-oriented and inter- & trans-disciplinary research approach is needed to achieve this objective, with research outcomes going beyond the usual emphasis on ISI-papers and generation of intellectual property. One of the strategies that are gaining momentum worldwide is the ideas of converting university campuses as Living Labs.
The philosophy behind the Living Lab idea is to convert university campuses to Living Labs. Treating the University as a Living Lab (LL) involves using the University’s research capabilities to solve sustainability issues relating to its infrastructure and practices. Living Lab in university context fosters applied research and education by using the campus to test real‐time sustainability solutions, offering opportunities to all university stakeholders to turn theory into practice, and enabling students to achieve greater engagement with their study material and a more well‐rounded educational experience.
UM Living Lab Grant Programme (UM LLGP), which is currently under the purview of Sustainability Science Research Cluster (SuSci), is a strategic partnership between DVC (Research & Innovation) and DVC (Development).
Practically, UM LLGP serves as a knowledge/action research platform for the Department of Development and Estate Maintenance (JPPHB) as the process owner (in waste management, water management, energy management, and greening & biodiversity) to gradually improve the sustainability of their operations. In this approach, UM researchers will join hands with JPPHB staff and other relevant stakeholders in UM to systematically improve UM’s performance in these areas, according to specific targets or KPIs. This approach is more focused, systematic collaborative, and trans-disciplinary in nature.
As of October 2016, 23 UM Living Lab projects focusing on eco-campus sustainability has been approved. Among highlighted projects include Water Warriors which focuses on the revival of Tasek Varsiti UM and water management in campus, Zero Waste Campaign which emphasises on sustainable waste management in UM, and The RIMBA Project with a focus on urban biodiversity and environmental education.
Living Labs are deemed to befit sustainability agenda and UM Eco-campus Blueprint endorsed by SuSci Research Cluster. All in all, it is a one-step 'experiment' which combine two main components, namely research and sustainable campus transformation plan. UM Living Lab is introduced to support the aspirations of UM to be among the leading Eco-Campus while promoting participation of the entire campus, a rarely visible trait in other research grants or programme. It is hoped that through translational research of UM Living Labs, our researchers may contribute to the realisation of UM Eco-campus Blueprint and subsequently to address sustainability issues within UM campuses.