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For nearly a decade, an alternative approach to innovation, where users of products and services participate in their design, has been spreading across Europe. Catie Lichten finds out about living labs.

In the suburbs of Helsinki, a housing cooperative called Loppukiri is home to around 70 residents who are exploring innovations that can improve the lives of older people. The inhabitants, who must be at least 48 years old and are mostly retired, helped design their own flats and the community’s common areas, and participated in the selection of building materials.

Now, they own a majority share of the housing corporation and are active in the community’s operations. They also participate in pilot projects with researchers, for example testing communications technology designed for use by seniors.

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