Program Office: About Imec

The Program Office will remain embedded in the existing imec.livinglabs structures. From within the European EIT Health Program, imec.livinglabs will coordinate the international Health Living Lab action line. This action line aims, among other things, to create a community of high-impact, high-quality Living Labs and test beds, to share knowledge with other leading Health Living Labs, and to develop a method to measure the performance of Health Living Labs. In this regard, imec.livinglabs continues to build on the experience gained by the Care Living Labs program, in which the facilitation of the sustainability of the Living Lab Platforms was a particular priority.

Likewise, within the Interregional CrossCare Project (a partnership between LiCalab, CareVille, InnovAGE and three Living Labs in the Netherlands), imec.livinglabs’ research expertise is being used to further expand upon the study of surveying companies. This will allow further optimization of the services offered by the Living Labs on the basis of businesses’ needs and expectations.

Program Office as coordinating body

The Program Office, led by Imec, handles the umbrella coordination of the Care Living Lab Flanders. The Program Office is responsible for the requisite alignment between the six living care platforms, the projects and the supporting bodies in order to be able to guarantee the best possible functioning of Care Living Labs Flanders.

The Program Office is the central contact point for Care Living Labs Flanders. In this way, the programs have a contact point for their questions, but interested parties in Belgium and abroad can also call upon the Program Office.

Furthermore, the Program Office is responsible for the methodological support of the platforms so that they can develop into mature living labs with sufficient scale to be able to have an effective impact on society.

A multidisciplinary approach is needed in order to realize new care and assistance processes and products within existing healthcare and welfare care structures. Not only technical, but also political, organizational, social, legal and financial challenges must be tackled in a coordinated manner in consultation with the various actors involved. The Program Office supports and facilitates bringing all involved players together. Partners already active in the experimentation space are namely the platforms, the KIO Scientific Consortium, the Sounding Board Committee, the authorities and the IWT, but also all actors that are actively working on care innovation in Flanders.

Program Office activities

The activities of the Program Office are of a supportive and facilitating nature and specifically the following tasks will be implemented:

Central contact point and ensuring coherent communication

The Program Office functions as a central contact point for all interested parties (including the press) and fulfills a bridge function between all the actors involved. In this way, the Program Office wishes to promote cross-fertilization between the platforms and other innovative care initiatives. Additionally, the Program Office is responsible for ensuring coherent communication - internally as well as externally - and supporting the visibility of Care Living Labs Flanders. For instance, the Program Office maintains the general website, www.zorgproeftuinen.be, and the organization and support of events in Belgium and abroad, among others. The Program Office is also responsible for facilitating efficient dissemination of project results and communication in general to the actors and organizations from the field.

Support for the six living lab platforms

The Program Office wants to help Care Living Labs Flanders grow into mature and sustainable living lab platforms. This assumes, among others, a (partially) open innovation ecosystem in which partnerships are developed in the entire care and value chain and whereby end users are actively involved in the entire innovation process, from idea generation to conceptualizing, development, testing and adjustment of care innovations in the daily living context of end users.  Co-creation, multidisciplinarity, cross-sector and transmural cooperation are crucial in this regard.

The living lab must guarantee a sufficient scale to be able to realize an impact on society in the long term and to continue to guarantee high quality and affordable healthcare. The Program Office offers the support required to make this happen by means of an offering of workshops about legal and operational themes, by means of coaching the platforms about common bottlenecks, but also through providing ICT tools - such as a project collaboration tool and a panel management tool - in order to support the everyday operation and processes within the platforms.

Providing living lab expertise

Entirely in line with the supportive role described above, the Program Office will support the platforms to become viable living labs methodologically. The Program Office aligns the
living lab methods and processes across the various platforms and is responsible for developing and evaluating the living lab methodology, developing a monitoring instrument with key indicators in consultation with the KIO, promoting interaction among living labs, knowledge sharing and international cooperation with the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL),
participation in the "European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing" (EIP-AHA) and the "Ambient Assisted Living Joint Program" (AAL). It does all of this with only one goal in mind: to make the best possible use of the Care Living Labs as an instrument for innovation in care.

Program Office under the wings of Imec

Imec is an independent research institution that promotes innovation in ICT on commission of the Flemish Government. The Imec team offers companies and organizations active support in research and development and to this end brings together a variety of companies, authorities and non-profit organizations around research projects. It addresses technical as well as non-technical aspects for each of these projects. Imec specializes in diverse areas such as Media, Energy, ICT, Manufacturing, Smart Cities and Care and Health.

Since 2005, more than 20 research projects were conducted within the field of Care and Health. These projects cover a wide range of research topics, from sharing patient files and exchanging medical data, computer-assisted decision making, algorithms interpreting and improving the quality of medical imaging, to telemonitoring projects and digital service in the home environment. These projects demonstrate that cross-fertilization between research, technology and care contributes to accessible and efficient healthcare by investing in innovative support of the care process.

Imec is an established name in international living lab research and will make their expertise available to the platforms. In this way, the concept of 'living labs' can be developed further and used as an instrument of innovation in care. Furthermore, an additional asset of the Program Office is that close cooperation with the incubation and entrepreneurship team concerning ICT entrepreneurship within Imec ensures interaction so that, on the one hand, the specificity of new enterprises and ICT products and, on the other hand, the complex quasi-market in healthcare can give the best possible guidance to the market introduction of new services that offer the most potential.

More info: www2.imec.be