On Thursday, May 9, the TWIST project held its first public meeting at the University of Limoges.
The three partners from the regions of Nouvelle Aquitaine and Occitanie are the University of Limoges, International Office for Water and Institute of Filtration and Separative Technologies. These partners invited a select group of key stakeholders to discuss in detail the project and its objectives in France. After an introduction by senior representatives of the partners, Mr Sylvain Boucher, President of the Aqua-Valley cluster, presented the key issues of innovation in the water sector, in relation to regulations and government organisation in the sector.
The partners then presented the TWIST project and the concept of a Living Lab. For many people unfamiliar with living labs, it is often seen as a complex concept and so time was given to help the key stakeholders understand their potential part in the lab and how their organization fits into the proposal being set up in France.
Living Labs (LLs) are defined as user-centered, open innovation ecosystems based, incorporating the co-creation approach, integrating research and innovation processes in real life communities and settings. It is exactly this co-creation aspect of a living lab, which the partners targeted with the workshops presented in the afternoon. By allowing detailed discussions, the partners aimed to develop a spirit of collaborative innovation between the research organisations, companies, cities and regions that were present.
The workshops focused on three topics:
- The priority subjects in the field of wastewater treatment,
- The governance of the living lab.
- Strengths and weaknesses analysis (SWOT).
After an initial feedback specifically on living labs, the sessions were chaired by member of the project to discuss how to help the process of innovation, through the creation of a living lab for the South-West France. The proposed name for the living lab in France is LaViSO.
The complementarity between the partners is an asset for the success of this project, as are the very important connections that exist with the professional world of the sector. It was one of the subjects that was repeated throughout the workshops. It can be seen as one of the real strengths of a living lab, but must also be seen as a threat to the coherence of such a project. Managing large numbers of diverse stakeholders can sometimes be a tricky process. In terms of research topics, the two priority subjects that came out of the workshops were the recuperation of energy and reducing pollution at source.
The discussions also lead to the conclusions that an association would be the best structure for the living lab and in France there is are clear regulations (Loi 1901) that prescribe how this would work. The finances were a more complex discussion and the long-term success of the project was something that should be considered in detail.