Northern Rural-Urban Living Lab (NorthRULL)

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Information doc: 

Martti Hyry, Head of Regional Development University of Oulu, Learning and Research Services P.O. BOX 7910, FIN-90014, Oulun yliopisto, FINLAND, phone: + 358 400 280 596.

Effective member: 

The initiative, NorthRULL, has been launched by a set of northernmost regions of Finland and, within them, by a Triple Helix constellation of the Regional Councils and development agencies, the two universities and the HEI network, and the key enterprise clusters. The formulation “Northern Rural-Urban Living Lab” states our intention to experiment with, learn from, and put into effect forms of innovative interplay between ICT-intensive growth- hubs on the one hand and rural areas on the other. In the latter, three fourths of the 700,000 people of northern Finland live on about 133 000 square kilometres. It is their economic and demographic vitality as well as sustainable growth and new regional development practices that NorthRULL aims to enhance. The entire approach builds upon the strengths and challenges of the rural peripheral areas.

Description of Concept

The mission of NorthRULL is to offer a new, integrated, user-centred approach to innovative economic and social development, in order to efficiently tackle the central challenges to the vitality of the rural areas of the North of Finland, northern Scandinavia, and eventually the circumpolar regions. This is to be achieved by combining cross-disciplinarity with the extant know-how and experience into a holistic approach to the implementation of the Lisbon strategy. NorthRULL will proceed in two main areas of activity, (1) health-related e-services and (2) international tourism industry. In both of them, we will explore the possibilities to set up open innovation systems and improve the management of innovation networks in the North. .

References and Track Record

To represent the specific experience from users/citizens engagement four examples mentioned below:

1. Rotuaari was a project by the University of Oulu, focusing on the development and testing of technologies and business models for mobile multimedia services of the future. Over 1800 test users participated in seven (7) field trials of the project. (

2. In the MOMEDA (MObile MEdical Data) EU 4th framework program project (1998-2000), the University of Oulu led a multi-national research consortium which developed the first ever diagnostic quality mobile medical multimedia terminal on a smartphone/PDA platform.

The results of the international collaboration were taken into clinical use by the neurosurgeons at the Oulu University Hospital, and resulted in a follow-up EU mobile multimedia project PROMODAS in the 5th framework IST program between partners from Finland, Belgium and France. The MOMEDA project is an example of how services and products were developed for professional end-users in the health care domain. ( , )

3. The FF Tool is a planning method developed in the University of Lapland, with the aim of utilizing user information in product development. User information and user knowledge may, for instance, be cultural, in which case product development takes into account the maximally varied uses of the products and services. The method does not build upon object/client group analysis, but on analyzing the activities of the users. The key point is to highlight cultural and social properties associated with the product or service.

4. The Testing Lab in Lapland is the world’s first wireless product development and testing environment for experience production and tourism services, offering cutting-edge know-how for the participating 35 service and applications companies. ( )

Northern Rural Urban Living Lab is member of the ENoLL Council.