The TECHLOG Living Labs (one set in the eastern and one in the western shore of the Mediterranean area) aim at bringing together interested research organisations, private companies and operators, public authorities, and users to work together for developing and testing new training and innovation initiatives for the transport and port sectors.
By promoting initiatives to support research-industry cooperation, the LLs are the collaborative environment where new innovation initiatives and projects are first developed using an open-innovation approach and then transferred.
Collaborating to Innovate
The heart of the TECHLOG West Living Lab
We navigated through a complex landscape of international collaboration and technological development.
From March to December 2023, the challenge was to create and foster a virtual and physical community united by the goal of developing new training models for transportation operators. The approach adopted was holistic and multidimensional, involving a variety of stakeholders: businesses, operators, research centers, universities, and other stakeholders. Managing this broad spectrum of stakeholders required technical skills, a sense of diplomacy, and intercultural communication.
The first phase of the project involved creating an online and offline community that connected all the involved parties. This phygital platform became the focal point of activities, enabling a constant exchange of ideas and resources among the different actors. The task was not simple; it required careful management and a constant commitment to maintaining active and productive interaction.
The second step involved researching and developing content suitable for stimulating and nurturing this platform. This process required a deep understanding of the needs and expectations of each involved group, ensuring that the material was both relevant and engaging.
As the third step, roundtable discussions opened vital spaces for dialogue and exchange among businesses, research centers, and operators. These meetings offered unique opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and best practices, strengthening the collaboration network among different partners.
The fourth step focused on the design, management, and analysis of questionnaires and interviews. This tool allowed us to gather valuable feedback, providing concrete data to assess the effectiveness of the initiatives undertaken and to plan future steps.
Finally, the realization of in-person public events, especially those involving the use of driving and crane simulators, represented a highlight of the project. These events not only energized the community but also offered immersive experiences that allowed operators to become familiar with the most innovative advanced simulation technologies in the transportation sector.
The open innovation approach of the West Living Lab in the TECHLOG project focused on creating a collaborative environment to engage various necessary actors (companies, research institutions, and end users) in developing innovative solutions. The management methodology was based on dynamic interaction among participants, facilitating knowledge sharing and adaptation to market needs. This approach emphasized practical experimentation, the use of advanced technologies, and continuous evaluation of the impact of proposed solutions.
The operation of the West Living Lab in the cross-border context faced several challenges. Among the technical challenges was the need to integrate advanced technologies and ensure their compatibility in a multicultural environment. On the non-technical side, challenges included managing collaboration among different entities, overcoming linguistic and cultural barriers, technical and managerial challenges, and aligning the goals and expectations of all partners. These challenges required a flexible and adaptive approach to ensure the project’s functioning in a transnational context.
Within the TECHLOG project, the West Living Lab stood out as a hub of innovation and experimentation, fully embodying the essence of open innovation. Our mission was to bring bold ideas to life and promote effective collaboration among various stakeholders in the transportation and ports sector.
The roundtable discussions provided fertile ground for the intersection of innovation supply and demand, actively engaging businesses and research centers, stimulating constructive dialogue, and opening new perspectives for cooperation.
The methodology adopted in our Living Lab embraced a dynamic strategy, combining theory and practice. One of our most significant initiatives was the creation and implementation of pre and post-event questionnaires. This tool allowed us to collect valuable feedback, not only to refine our educational offerings but also to contribute to research in the sector.
At the heart of our activities were the use of cutting-edge simulators. During public events, we made the experience even more interactive and engaging by integrating simulators with real-time questionnaires. This approach allowed participants to actively reflect on the learning experience, enriching it with their insights and suggestions.
In addition to these initiatives, we implemented other key elements typical of the Living Lab methodology. These included the creation of shared and flexible workspaces, which facilitated collaboration and idea exchange in a stimulating environment.
Another fundamental pillar was the active involvement of end users. This direct interaction allowed us to better understand the sector’s needs and to orient our initiatives more effectively.
By facilitating dialogue between businesses and research centers, knowledge transfer was enhanced. The facilitation of facilitators and collaboration with the East Living Lab further strengthened the cross-border network, significantly contributing to the project’s success in an open innovation and international cooperation context.
The West Living Lab team demonstrated a significant ability to adapt to a rapidly evolving environment, always keeping a close eye on the community’s needs and the project’s goals. The collaboration network built and maintained not only enhanced dialogue across the Mediterranean but also laid the foundation for future cross-border initiatives.
Through these actions, the CBC ENI TechLOG project has set a new standard for training and collaboration in the transportation sector, demonstrating how innovation and international cooperation can go hand in hand in creating a more connected and sustainable future.
In conclusion, our journey has been a path of discovery, innovation, and collaboration. Through the integration of innovative methodologies, open dialogue among different stakeholders, and active experimentation, we have laid the groundwork for a more collaborative future in the transportation and ports sector.
Our experience demonstrates that when working together with passion and commitment, the boundaries of innovation can be expanded in unexpected ways.
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