If we want an Innovation Nation, we need a nation involved in innovation.

Imagine an Australia where everyone knew someone who was involved in an innovation process that led to a new service, product, social practice or even had just cut a really-bad idea short, leaving more resources for better ones. The European Union (including the UK) Innovation 2.0 strategy aims to do just that; large scale citizen participation in innovation. In academic terms, the adoption of a quadruple helix model of innovation that bring together government, business, universities and most importantly citizens into the innovation mix. As the 2016 Open Innovation 2.0 year book points out Living Labs and Open Innovation 2.0 have grown together with the Living Labs concept leading the way. Living Labs are a key part of the innovation policy framework and practice in Europe. But where did this all come from?

In 2010, I was part of a small futures team at the Smart Services CRC investigating new and emerging innovation settings for a report for the Queensland Government. It was then I came across Living Labs as a new (4 year old) innovation mechanism. At that time, Australia’s innovation index scores were low, our input scores (quality of research, patents, infrastructure, etc) were good but our output scores were low. Australia was nestled between Jamaica and the Ukraine in the innovation rankings, New Zealand was well ahead. The high input / low output issues was also known as the ‘European problem’ and their answer was Open Innovation 2.0. Over the last few years Australia has climbed little and then fallen back down, most recently this week when this year’s innovation index scores were announced.  The intent of the Ideas Boom and Innovation Nation are good; to make it go with a bang we need to include us, the end users who need to adopt something to take it from an idea or invention to an innovation. We know that involving end users throughout the innovation process has significant benefits and we know that Living Labs are a great innovation setting to support that.

If we want an Innovation Nation, we need end-users involved in innovation.

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