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Using the living lab model, the Institute’s Sustainability Innovation Hub provides a platform to bring together scientific experts and organisations, to resolve real-world problems with a transdisciplinary approach.

A living lab approach to research enables collaboration between a range of stakeholders at local, national or international level to address various real-world challenges through research and innovation. The stakeholders involved define the project together and co-create results and outputs which we all benefit from, often addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


In November 2019, the University of Surrey launched its living lab initiative. This allowed scientific experts to develop networks and partnerships from within the University with community partners and businesses. After exploring and trialling the living lab model at the University, this approach now continues to be used within the Sustainability Innovation Hub at our Institute.

Benefits of the living lab approach

Used by many universities and other organisations, the living lab approach to research and innovation can deliver benefits to all parties involved:

  • Students can access opportunities to get real research experience and work across a wide range of subjects and departments, beyond their course and own department, gaining new skills, broadening knowledge and enhancing their employability.
  • Scientific experts can collaborate on genuinely cross disciplinary research projects and partner with a wide range of organisations including businesses, public sector organisations and community groups.
  • Businesses can work with University experts to access expert knowledge, cutting-edge resources and additional funding and progress along their sustainability journey.
  • Public Sector Organisations can access the latest thinking in sustainability interventions and behaviour change, co-create research projects that are bespoke for the region or local area and use the University as a testbed to identify impactful sustainable solutions.
  • Community and Climate Action Groups can engage with their community using approaches tested across the UK and worldwide and co-create research projects with local experts to better address the local challenges and understand opportunities for climate change mitigation.


Find out more about past living lab projects at the University of Surrey.