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The Design Creative City Living Lab overcomes systemic failures in the innovation process by involving users at an early stage of the development phase, and by creating a trusted environment where small as well as large business stakeholders can meet in a trusted environment, and test out innovative products, services and business models.It also provides a platform for constructive technology assessment and for exploring societal and policy goals related to ICT and Human Adapted Design innovation in an urban context.
The Cité du design has an “eco-systemic” approach to its projects. For example, the 2008 Biennale of Design was firmly oriented towards incentives to modify behavior in order to reduce the environmental impact of the exhibition. City Eco Lab was the central theme of the 2008 International Design Biennale Saint-Etienne. What would life be like in a sustainable town ? How can design help us to get there? The 5000 m2 of exhibition proposed a “market of nomadic projects”, drawing on examples worldwide which were then linked to projects being developed in the Saint-Etienne region. City Eco Lab was an incubator of citizen co-design, a concept based on collaboration between citizens. If designers can contribute to improving objects for everybody, in a particular context, then the tools, methods, and services which are developed can be made available on a much larger scale.This event has lead to numerous projects which have been developed since 2007 by the Cité du design in the region involving designers, citizens, associations, researchers, experts, etc. City Eco Lab provided tools and expertise to the visitors, to improve their actions. It was the first major demonstration of the Design Creative City Living Lab.