Governing University Living Labs for Sustainable Development

Funded by the Monash-ENGIE Alliance, this report outlines key recommendations and drivers to help University Living Labs stimulate innovation towards collective action on global challenges like climate change.

University Living Labs are an important vehicle for real world experimentation and learning because they bring together community, government, business, NGOs, and researchers on and off campus to work towards common goals for sustainable development and other societal challenges like sustainability, which are beyond any one group to tackle alone. Living labs involve university-industry partnerships, experiential learning for students, use of the campus as a testbed, and knowledge translation and commercialisation for social impact.

This study identified shared challenges and critical success factors for enabling these initiatives by speaking with academics and practitioners involved in 18 University Living Labs across Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Singapore, the UK, and the US.

This report is the first international comparative study of University Living Labs focused on how these initiatives can be organised and embedded in universities. The study highlights that while University Living Labs take a variety of forms, they often face common challenges associated with insufficient governing structures, ad hoc funding, siloed institutional cultures, and a lack of shared understanding. The report makes practical recommendations for overcoming these challenges through flexible coordination, investment, facilitation, and communication.

The report was co-authored by Dr Paris Hadfield, Dr Darren Sharp, Sam Rye, and Prof Rob Raven from MSDI and Dr Mures Zarea, Dr Jonas Pigeon, and Dr Xiaoyang Peng from ENGIE.

Download the report [PDF]

Read more about the Monash-ENGIE Alliance

Catch up on the launch webinar event

The webinar explored key insights and recommendations for organising and enabling innovation and impact through University Living Labs, based on 18 case studies from around the world.

Case studies featured in the report:

  • Monash University – Net Zero Initiative / Net Zero Precincts (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Deakin University – Living labs (Geelong, Australia)
  • RMIT University – IC3P (Melbourne, Australia)
  • University of Melbourne – Campuses as Living Laboratories (Melbourne, Australia)
  • University of Tasmania – Sustainability Integration Program for Students (SIPS) (Hobart, Australia)
  • Western Sydney University – Living Labs (Sydney, Australia)
  • State University of Campinas – Campus Sustentável (Sustainable Campus) (Campinas, Brazil)
  • Concordia University, Canada – Living labs (Montreal, Canada)
  • University of British Columbia – Campus as a Living Lab (Vancouver, Canada)
  • University of Toronto – Campus as a Living Lab (Toronto, Canada)
  • La Rochelle University – Smart Campus (La Rochelle, France)
  • University of Stuttgart – CampUS hoch i (Real-World Laboratory) (Stuttgart, Germany)
  • Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) – The Green Village / Living labs (Delft, The Netherlands)
  • Utrecht University – Living Labs for Sustainable Development (UULabs) (Utrecht, The Netherlands)
  • Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) (Singapore)
  • University of Edinburgh – Living Lab projects (Edinburgh, UK)
  • University of Manchester – University Living Lab (Manchester, UK)
  • Ohio State University – Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP) (Columbus, US)