4. Real-life casesAs already mentioned earlier, one of my method for empirical study is based on qualitative interviews. There were two reason why I chose this specific technique: 1) as already mentioned several times in this report, there is not so much of academic research on chosen subject, therefore I had to find something that would bring more value besides the texts; 2) I had a good opportunity to use my network in order to conduct at least one interview with a participant of a real living lab. I decided to choose one local and one overseas living labs: Danish SPACE10 and American Finless Foods. 4.
1 SPACE10SPACE10 call themselves a future-living lab. They set out to explore any possible future scenarios, understand global challenges, and most importantly, design for people’s dreams (Company.space10.io, 2017). They are doing with all-the-time growing collaborative network of expert, designers, specialists or any other partners. SPACE10 is created by IKEA (Ikea.com, 2016) where IKEA is trying to extend the same freedom to a global network with exploring food possibilities, urbanisation, health and wellness, etc. SPACE10 specialises in many different kinds of projects, that is, they are not working on a specific field, e.
g. food, but rather trying to cover more various kinds of areas.To have a better understand of how SPACE10 functions, I would like to give one example of their projects – Tomorrow’s Meatball. Within this project, SPACE10 is ready to explore the ways “how we can produce more food with less and in a more sustainable way than today” (Space10.
io, 2017). The whole approach for this project is based on IKEA’S iconic meatball as a canvas for their findings. They got a chef that created 8 different meatballs that each represented a different and more sustainable food alternative. Then, they created a photo series with short explanations, and released it to the public.
The main idea of Tomorrow’s Meatball project is to trigger conversations on a global level that will find more efficient and sustainable alternatives for our current ways of production and diet. In order to get a better understanding of motivates behind such innovation projects that might or might not bring any tangible value, I have talked with one of the former employees of SPACE10 – Kristian Klok (full interview script can be found in Appendix nr.1). Insights:Kristian’s background is based on conceptual, creative and art direction within digital media. When he was asked what was his main motive to apply for such an experimentally based working place, his answer was pretty straightforward: “to do something meaningful” (Klok, 2017). He elaborated on that by explaining that it a pleasant surprise that there are places which require his background in order to make a difference.
He listed some of the issues which humanity faces today: growing population, rapid use of technology and lack of understanding what consequences it can bring, lack of food, etc. Kristian seemed very happy that he did not have to be biologist or architect in order to solve those issues. He also says that if we all work together, collaborate and share our ideas, the changes can actually happen. Another motive was that SPACE10 has some really interesting projects going on, especially regarding the tech section. Afterwards, I asked him about the potential challenges of working in a living lab and what could drive such a place. He had a solid answer for what drives the living labs: passion, hope and pure interest. He also believes that working in such a pace as SPACE10 became cool and trendy.
When it comes to challenges, Kristian pointed out the experimental part of working in a living lab. He says that when you actually invent something or discover the future, no one knows how to do it, where is the start point, etc. In SPACE10, people are changing constantly due to the fact that the newest knowledge is always required. This factor creates a little bit of a mess and lack of process. He also says that it is difficult to connect creative and academic research, but it is a very important and unavoidable part.
In general, people are very ambitious in what they are doing, which also creates some challenges when it comes to the team: there are too many projects and not enough of people to share the ideas with. In his point of view that “hurts innovation”. He believes that the key for a living lab is process and culture. I also asked Kristian how many project out of 5 actually reach a successful ending in a living labs, and his answer was 1. When asked what would be the motives that would keep him for a long-term participation, the answer was: “solid process, culture, excellent project management.
Clear roles and goals”. 4.2 Finless FoodsAnother living lab example is from Silicon Valley, San Francisco. Finless Food is an early-stage biotechnology based living lab which is developing and manufacturing pioneering marine animals food for human consumption (Finlessfoods.com, 2017).
Their main idea is to create sustainable seafood, using scientific cellular agriculture technologies. Needless to mention, fishing is killing our planet, the Ocean ecosystem is not able to take the stain of increased fish production, and the fish consumption is raising more and more. Finless Food does not understand the aquaculture systems – why is the money allocated to install such complex systems when all we need is the actual fish meat. Their solution is the “well-established and cutting-edge cell culture techniques, a small of cells from a living marine animal will be cultured and structured in a brewery-like environment in the same shape as a fish filler” (Finlessfood.com, 2017). Afterwards, they are planning to design an efficient and cheap growth for the cell lines that will allow them to grow fast. They will lay the cells out in a structure and shape an an actual fish meat, because on the cellular level, it will be a real fish meat.
I was able to reach out to CEO of Finless Food – Mike Selden. After sending him an email, I received a positive answer to conduct an interview via Google Hangout (full transcript of the interview can be found in Appendix nr.2). Insights:When asked about the motive to start such an innovation project, Mike talked about wanting to move from public to private sector. The reason is simple: more money. Private sector has more investors than a public, it becomes easier to accomplish goals, however he clearly pointed out that money was definitely not the main motivator.
The main motive was based on animal wealthcare and his knowledge that he gained over the past 6 years working in this sector.When asked if there are any specific ways that Finless Foods keep its employees for a long0term participation, Mike answered that they only hire people that are motivated by the exact same mission as the company is. He thinks it is extremely important, otherwise the company and a potential employee are not on the same page. Mike thinks that Purpose and Profit motives go hand in hand. The profit motive is very important because the investors are profit driven.
The company also tries to pay its employees enough so that they do not need to bother about it and keep their focus on the actually work. In Finless Foods the motivation of the participants not only based on the company’s interest, but also on participants’ interests.