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Learning and Innovating through Living Labs: The Denver House Case

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While on Hogeschool Utrecht (HU), the SEED partners recently visited Denver House, a living lab initiative demonstrating how practical, real-world testing grounds can foster innovation and address societal challenges. A living lab is like a real-world testing ground where new technological or social ideas are tested with the involvement of users or citizens. This hands-on approach allows for experimentation in a practical setting, which can provide valuable insights to scale up these ideas for broader application.

Denver House, situated in Utrecht Science Park, is a fine example of a living lab focused on sustainable living. Constructed by students from the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, this lab brings together students, researchers, and business community members to test new energy and circular innovations. Moreover, Denver House provides a platform for interdisciplinary projects, nurturing collaborations with the University of Utrecht and ROC Midden Nederland. It’s a space where learning meets practical application, supporting the transition towards sustainability.

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One notable project was the student-led effort for the Solar Decathlon Challenge 2017, showcasing the hands-on learning and collaborative spirit that living labs like Denver House promote. The ongoing projects continue to receive support from both business and public sector partners, valuing the real-world learning and innovation that such living labs offer. Starting January 2024, Denver House will be hosting innovation workshops, embracing student projects aimed at exploring circular building materials, solar power, and more. It’s more than just a lab; it’s a communal hub where students and partners can share ideas, learn from each other, and inspire a culture of sustainable living. Features like a second-hand clothing swap shop and repair cafes add to its circular living ethos.

The experience at Denver House highlights the importance of living labs, where the SEED partners saw firsthand how theoretical knowledge merges with practical application to address real-world challenges. The partners also had fruitful discussions with the students on how this project can drive sustainable innovation, equipping them with both knowledge and practical experience that’s crucial for the job market.

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