What is a Living Lab?

Living Labs offer real-life research opportunities for students and researchers, evidence-based recommendations for operational staff and opportunities for research impact for academics.

United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Living Lab research projects are in their nature collaborative. At SRS, we welcome evidence-based recommendations from our Living Lab researchers. This can lead to change or improvements of policy and operations at the University of Edinburgh and embed sustainability in all that we do.

At the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability, we work to meet the Sustainable Development Goals as well as our own University targets to be a zero-waste university by 2030 and a net-zero carbon University by 2040.

That is why our Living Lab projects all contribute towards at least one of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable Development Goals

Bristo Square and McEwan Hall viewed from the air
Our campus is a living laboratory

What makes a Living Lab project?

A Living Lab project should aim to:

  • Solve a real-life problem
  • Be framed around at least one of the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Be a partnership among key stakeholders, often crossing disciplinary and/or sectoral boundaries
  • Use existing and newly generated quantitative and qualitative data, embracing digital technologies where possible
  • Create an open source culture, but sharing data and analysis generated, for the Living Lab to live on.
  • Operational staff should aim to trial and test recommendations, or repropose the project to refine solutions proposed

Is the Living Lab approach for me? 

  • If you are a student and want to include sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals into your education at the University of Edinburgh, consider one of our Living Lab projects for your dissertation or PhD.
  • If you are a teaching academic, we can provide you with Living Lab project ideas for students to explore. Speak to us about how to include the Sustainable Development Goals into your modules and consider joining a vibrant network of teaching colleagues who include sustainability in their teaching areas. Join the SDG Community of Practise, coming soon.
  • If you are a staff researcher and want to use the University of Edinburgh as a Living Lab to advance Sustainable Development Goals, we can support you by signposting to internal data and colleagues who have practitioner or research experience.
  • If you are a grant holder and envision Sustainable Development Goal related Living Lab opportunities within your research group, contact us to discuss ideas and connect with PhD students and researchers from across disciplines.

Next steps

Visit 'Available projects' to choose an existing project

Visit 'The SRS Living Lab processes and resources' to develop your own project and to continue the process

Contact for general enquiries