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Living Labs: From Niche to Mainstream Innovation Management

The Defining Characteristics of Agroecosystem Living Labs

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa Research and Development Centre, 960 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, ON K1A 0C6, Canada
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, National Headquarters Complex for the Agriculture Portfolio (NHCAP), 1305 Baseline Road, Ottawa, ON K1A 0C5, Canada
INRAE, 147 rue de l’Université, CEDEX 07, 75338 Paris, France
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Québec Research and Development Centre, 2560 Hochelaga Boulevard, Québec City, QC G1V 2J3, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Dimitri Schuurman and Seppo Leminen
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1718;
Received: 16 November 2020 / Revised: 2 February 2021 / Accepted: 2 February 2021 / Published: 5 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovation Management in Living Labs)
In response to environmental, economic, and social challenges, the living labs approach to innovation is receiving increasing attention within the agricultural sector. In this paper, we propose a set of defining characteristics for an emerging type of living lab intended to increase the sustainability and resilience of agriculture and agri-food systems: the “agroecosystem living lab”. Drawing on first-hand knowledge of case studies of large initiatives from Canada and France and supported by eight other cases from the literature, we highlight the unique nature of agroecosystem living labs and their distinct challenges with respect to their aims, activities, participants, and context. In particular, these living labs are characterized by exceptionally high levels of scientific research; long innovation cycles with high uncertainty due to external factors; and the high number and diversity of stakeholders involved. Both procedurally and conceptually, we link to earlier efforts undertaken by researchers seeking to identify urban living labs and rural living labs as distinct, new types of living labs. By highlighting what makes agroecosystem living labs unique and their commonalities with other types of living labs, we hope to encourage their further study and help practitioners better understand their implementation and operational challenges and opportunities. View Full-Text
Keywords: living lab; agroecosystem; agriculture; innovation; characteristics; sustainability; typologies; placed-based living lab; agroecosystem; agriculture; innovation; characteristics; sustainability; typologies; placed-based
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MDPI and ACS Style

McPhee, C.; Bancerz, M.; Mambrini-Doudet, M.; Chrétien, F.; Huyghe, C.; Gracia-Garza, J. The Defining Characteristics of Agroecosystem Living Labs. Sustainability 2021, 13, 1718.

AMA Style

McPhee C, Bancerz M, Mambrini-Doudet M, Chrétien F, Huyghe C, Gracia-Garza J. The Defining Characteristics of Agroecosystem Living Labs. Sustainability. 2021; 13(4):1718.

Chicago/Turabian Style

McPhee, Chris, Margaret Bancerz, Muriel Mambrini-Doudet, François Chrétien, Christian Huyghe, and Javier Gracia-Garza. 2021. "The Defining Characteristics of Agroecosystem Living Labs" Sustainability 13, no. 4: 1718.

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