Our Research

What is Co-creation?

When diverse actors (companies, universities, policy makers, users) collaboratively innovate to mutual benefits, it is called co-creation. Co-creation takes many forms which is why we take different disciplinary angles to better understand co-creation. Science and Technology Studies (STS) is our primary lens with a focus on:

  • Responsible Innovation
  • Social Robustness
  • Diversity in Innovation
  • Limits of Standardization

This is put in conversation with Innovation Management, Innovation Policy, Economics, Philosophy & Ethics, and more.

We study three co-creation Instruments …

Living Labs
LLs take the development of new technologies into the real world. They are sites of collective invention, testing, and demonstration of technologies and sociotechnical futures.

Public Procurement of Innovation
In PPI, the public sector uses its purchasing power to act as an early adopter of innovative solutions. It acts as a co-creator by defining public challenges that could be solved through innovation, choosing preferred solution providers, and steering the process towards public benefits.

Co-creation Facilities
CCFs are open, physical or virtual infrastructures for collaborative innovation. They provide lab space, expertise, equipment for staff & external clients. Or, they act as platforms for ‘triple helix’ interactions between academia, companies and policy makers.

… across three technological domains

Robots increasingly find their way into our social life. So called collaborative robots (or co-bots) are designed to work closely together with and for humans, for example in education, healthcare or elderly care. However, their use in social settings raises new concerns. For example: How can they operate safely in delicate environments such as hospitals? Can we prevent hacking or other types of malicious manipulation? Co-bots greatly depend on co-creation efforts among diverse stakeholders (doctors, patients, engineers, nurses) to find answers to these questions. 

Autonomous Driving
Autonomous cars are central to the smart city discourse. Besides their potential benefits, such as safer and more efficient driving as well as an easy, comfortable transport for people who cannot drive, the transition to a new era of transport raises problematic ethical and social questions: Who is accountable when an unavoidable collision happens? Who has access to transport and when? Who will be affected by large-scale changes to the cities’ infrastructure to make roads suitable for autonomous vehicles? Co-creation enables cities to carefully consider these questions together with municipalities, academia, industry and citizens. 

Urban Energy
Energy provision is key for reaching a sustainable future and everyone is part of it. Families install photovoltaic systems on their roofs, house owners adjust their buildings to higher energy efficiency standards, and rural populations might fear the construction of a new wind park in a close by natural reserves. Values, such as freedom, autonomy, security, or control need are to be negotiated with many stakeholders to make the future energy system fit the norms and values of society at large. Co-creation increasingly happens in the smart city context where industry-university-government collaborations are on the rise.

scaling up icon Why Scaling up?

Businesses rely on scaling up to wider markets as well as EU research counts on scalable concepts, for example in the smart city context. This mainstreaming of co-creation processes and outcomes across context commonly fails. For example, when engineers develop a healthcare robot together with patients and doctors in a hospital in Barcelona, the robot might be optimally suited for one hospital environment. However, it will unlikely fit to the social, cultural, or organizational context of another hospital, city, or country.

SCALINGS aims to better understand how co-creation relates to a unique context and to learn under what conditions co-creation practices can be scaled up from one city district or country to another. 

Our research unfolds in 3 stages

1 Collect Experiences

We conduct various in-depth case studies with leading co-creation practitioners. Each consortial partner will focus on cases located in their countries. 
We systematically compare how different actors use the supposedly same co-creation instrument in their context and identify similarities and differences, best practices or failures.

2 Test & Engage

Now we test our insights in the field and conduct  “experimental interventions”. This means, to actively engage with case study partners and  intervene into their innovation processes to enhance co-creation practices and outcomes.

3 Disseminate

We disseminate our findings among a diverse community of co-creation practitioners, businesses, citizens and academia. 

A EU policy roadmap will present key takeaways from our research to guide future co-creation and scaling up processes in Europe and beyond.

Our Impact

SCALINGS will be the anchor point for future up-scaling activities across contexts. Industry practitioners, policy makers, researchers and citizens of the EU and beyond will benefit from our results: Frameworks for ‘situated co-creation’ and ‘socially robust scaling’, an educational training programme and an EU policy roadmap. 

Empower Citizens

We foster co-creation practices that are aligned with the needs, norms and values of local populations. To achieve this, we work in close cooperation with our case study partners and implement our findings in collaborative and reflexive settings.

We hereby place great emphasis on questions of social justice, diversity, and inclusion. Not only does this contribute to better-targeted innovation practices and policy support, but also meaningful roles for citizens in the innovation process.  

Inspire Policies

We draft an EU Policy Roadmap to mainstream co-creation in a responsible and socially robust way. The roadmap is based on a comparative analysis of both existing co-creation policies across the EU and the specific opportunities and challenges for socially inclusive and diverse co-creation practices at the SCALINGS field sites.

In this way, we synthesize our findings into a programmatic agenda that will help policy-makers harness international “best practices” in a manner that is suited to their own socio-cultural particularities.

Shape Practices

We will shape industry and business practices by providing guidance for scaling up activities across contexts.

As we cooperate closely with case study partners, we implement our frameworks for ‘situated co-creation’ and ‘socially robust scaling’ together with practitioners and thus co-create enhanced practices that feed directly back into their work and strategy.

Moreover, we will disseminate our findings to other European consortia-in-the-making through a training program (‘boot camp’) to enhance their sensitivity for socio-cultural differences in co-creation while learning from international best practices.