TRAIL Living Lab (Translating Research and Innovation Lab)

Information doc: 

Prof Maurice Mulvenna, School of Computing and Mathematics, Faculty of Computing and Engineering, University of Ulster, Jordanstown, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK.


The TRAIL (Translating Research And Innovation Lab) lab represents the development of our research thinking to support research and innovation activities across several key disciplines including business, information & communication technologies, occupational therapy, art, health care, media studies research, social care and clinical medicine. Based at the University of Ulster, TRAIL is focused on supporting this diverse set of stakeholders as we develop new technologies, research perspectives, processes and integrated service solutions that deliver real value to our users in the North of Ireland and further afield across Europe.

TRAIL is focused on assisting all users in the development of user-centred techniques to improve services and product development. TRAIL has been particularly interested in assisting ageing, rural dwellers, supporting their decisions to remain in their homes and lead fulfilling lives in the heart of their communities. The user group that TRAIL supports demonstrate strong and complex needs, primarily along the dimensions of age (age- related impairments) and rurality (feeling of isolation and insecurity). For example, recent research on people with dementia in sparsely populated rural areas in Northern Ireland found that opportunities for non-institutional living were limited and require innovative practice and imagination to develop services. TRAIL offers real potential to deliver this innovation. More recently, the lab has broadened the scope of its work to include innovation activities with small to medium enterprises.

Services offered by the TRAIL living lab consist of new products, services businesses and technologies these will be available to enterprises, academia, public and civic bodies and to priority target groups and users. The TRAIL lab offers services that are focused on helping the community to identify unmet needs, and translate these needs in service and product innovations. Specifically, TRAIL offers a family of services to identify unmet needs and to filter and rank these needs based upon the commercial or stakeholder benefit perceived.

References and Track Record

TRAIL was established in 2006 and has used new research projects to ‘boot-strap’ its living lab competences. Most notably, the COGKNOW project, which focused on addressing identified needs of people with early stage dementia, acted as a catalyst on how technical research teams can work together in multidisciplinary research. We are also developing our competency in terms of research activities to develop innovation models. As a group of active researchers we have a strong track record of working successfully with research colleagues across Europe. We have also been very successful in working in applied projects locally in the North of Ireland. As such, TRAIL is well-placed to act as an innovation and knowledge hub in the region, serving the local community and acting as a conduit for best practice both from and to the region.