INNOVATION VS LIVING LABS
As living labs, which are different from innovation labs, is a cornerstone of the VITAE concept, the following provide a high-level overview of the differences between living labs and innovation labs, as well as the various models.
As the author and initiator of VITAE, I am well positioned to speak of the benefits of living labs. Since MISSION 2030, a people choice award-winning change management initiative for net-zero construction, renovation, demolition waste by 2030. The concept and program progressed in leaps and bounds greatly thanks to the use of the Climate CoLab – MIT Centre for Collective Intelligence in Cambridge MA. The ongoing use and collaboration received from organizations worldwide received attention that would have never been possible without, and led to the engagement with United Nations Environmental Programs working on the global 2030 sustainable development goals, which were part of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Other living labs invaluable and considered in the creation of the VITAE concept elements include:
- Carleton University’s
- ENoLL (European Network of Living Labs), which boasts more than 160 living labs (80% European and 20% external). Canadian living labs that are ENoLL members are:
A sampling of other living labs, which VITAE aims to interact with, in additions to cooperatives, academia, social enterprises and/or public and private organizations include:
- Agriculture and Agri-food Canada – Living Laboratories Initiative
- Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program – Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
- Lake Superior Living Lab Network
- Ingenium Canada – University of Ottawa and Canadian Museum of Science and Technology
- Realagriculture – Manitoba
- MacKenzie Health Innovation Unit – Richmond Hill ON
- City Living Labs – Calgary
- Joint Centres for Transformative Healthcare Innovation – North York General Hospital
- Entrepreneurial living labs in the US – click here for Inc. Blog
- MITbigdata and MIT Sustainability – MIT
LIVING LAB BUSINESS VALUE
Knowing the stocks and flows of our real economy is important for any business. Unfortunately, in addition to too many not knowing this, not all assets/liabilities, and resources or waste are covered in business value – although they should be. Especially in generative initiatives, and large projects like the redevelopment of an entire campus as proposed with the Alfred College Campus. Because considering the entire or total business value will help apply important strategies such as those proposed by Deloitte for the solution economy: change the lens; target the gaps; rethink constraints; embrace lightweight solutions; buy differently; and measure what matters, or any other strategies aimed at integration, and (re)generation. Moreover, real value is at the heart of the resource revolution.
To achieve a higher total business value, life cycle assessment (LCA), which is different from life cycle costing (LCC), is key. And while LCAs require greater front end (re)development investments, they can also significantly reduce delivery, operational, and maintenance costs, time, and environment impacts, while optimizing various resources, and eliminating waste. The following presents important VITAE tangible and intangible values to be considered.
BUSINESS TOTAL NOTES
As property developers crash rates can be high, the following highlight just a few elements to mitigate risks (challenges and opportunities), while increasing the business total value:
- Promote the leadership track record to acquire the credibility needed to prompt lenders or investors to finance the redevelopment of existing buildings and infill into continuing care.
- Create one or more partnerships Partnerships come in various formal and informal types. In Canada, There are three kinds of legal entity partnership: general partnerships; limited partnerships; and limited liability partnerships (this last kind is not yet available in all provinces). One of the main reasons to use any kind of partnership is for income tax planning. (Incoporate.ca) For large projects, there are also
- Public–Private-Partnerships (3P) that allow large-scale government projects, such as roads, bridges, or hospitals, to be completed with private funding. These partnerships work well when private sector technology and innovation combine with public sector incentives to complete work on time and within budget. These however need greater inclusion of CSR to meet the principles of sustainable development.
- Public-Private-People-Partnerships (4P) is a concept emerging way of highlighting the need for developing the involvement of private actors and the general public in a joint process that has come out from the growth of living labs. And although 3P and 4P models both have similarities, the focus of a 3P is on the public and private partnership for a homogeneous consumer community, while the 4P focus is on people for a diverse consumer community as shown in the diagram below.
- Engage with and join a housing non-profit: As the development will include a continuing care facility –which may provide retirement income to sustain the leadership while they get started- engaging with one of the many charitable or non-profits devoted to affordable housing to build the necessary knowledge will be key. Habitat for Humanity for instance is well known internationally, but most communities have several organizations with similar missions – e.g. Village of Alfred Non-Profit Housing Corporation, or the managed by Prescott Russell Social Housing Department. The CMHC Affordable Housing Programs may also provide data and be able to tackle the information or experience gaps to prevent a dependency on limited private loans and angel investors.
- Develop an Integrated Development Plan (IDP) that it is attractive to others, before approaching funding sources. For the residential projects, start with the most accessible opportunity that will provide the fastest ROI. In the upper campus, determine if this will be in the main legacy building, or the former student residence, or infill, with a few other housing spaces at a time. Since acquiring funding may take several months by which time the desired property may be sold, identify 6-12 other available properties for sale, and treat a few of these as available backups for detailed plan development. Thoroughly research any zoning limitations and special conditions for each property, such as property taxes, development fees, green development incentives, access easements and utility easements.
- Extensively research the local property market with a regional qualified agent for comparisons, to provide as much information as possible to potential lenders. Research “comps” –other similar, recent property sales– to validate the best property and fair sale pricing. Develop one or two simple graphs for each property that illustrate the percentage change in neighborhood property values over the last three to five years. Determine the type of housing that sells best in these neighborhoods and develop a housing plan for each of the 2-3 primary potential properties. These should include preliminary sketches that make the project real in the eyes of prospective lenders.
- Prepare building costs estimates including business-portfolio discovery, program development, and project delivery consulting, materials, labor, overhead and profit; as well as planning and building department permits and fees and a 15 percent contingency fund. Running each prospective plan by the locality’s building department and local planning department will be necessary if more than one municipality is explored, and if the municipality is not engaged as a formal partner or does not play a leadership role in the strategic development, tactics, operations and maintenance.
- Make a compelling pitch. Before presenting to lenders, ensure a compelling development pitch has been prepared and rehearsed . The spokesperson must be able to describe the project quickly –in just a few minutes- and convincingly, without getting lost in details; allowing time for questions and listening to objections. Being able to recite facts and dollar amounts confidently from memory will help assure lenders that adequate time and resources have been invested to develop a compelling case for the property to generate the business profit imperative, and a positive community impact
- Private Lenders and Angel Investors: As funding by traditional lenders is especially difficult for initial property development, working with private lenders and angel investors –wealthy individuals taking creative interests in ‘green’ property development with social values such as affordable housing, but uninterested in doing it themselves– will matter. This can reduce the building costs and facilitate obtaining public funding. Private leaders and angel investors may also come from successful individuals looking for ways to increase and diversify retirement income. In a Public-Private-People Partnerships, the private lender, and or angel investor is the ‘people’ part of the P4.