Co-creating or Testing Scalable Societies? Test Beds and Living labs as Emerging Innovation Policy Instrument, panel at 4S 2019 New Orleans (September 4-7, 2019)

Please consider submitting your abstract to this open panel 23:

Test beds and living labs (TB/LL) have emerged as a prominent approach to foster innovation across geographical regions and technical domains, including in energy, transportation, smart cities, and robotics. Feeding on prominent policy discourses around “grand societal challenges” and “directed transformation,” TB/LL represent a co-creative, experimental approach to innovation policy that aims at once to test, demonstrate, and advance new sociotechnical arrangements in a model environment under real-world conditions. To that end, TB/LL tentatively stabilize new socio-technical orders at the meso-scale in an “as-if” mode of technology implementation, frequently with the promise that local orders could be scaled up or transferred to future society at large.

In this panel, we interrogate TB/LL as an emergent innovation policy instruments. We invite papers that address the following questions, among others:

  • How are futures materialized and negotiated in TB/LL?
  • How, what and who do TB/LL “test”? What forms of control and participation do they enact?
  • How do TB/LL create (standardized) model realities? How are these model realities deemed or made scalable from the “lab” to society at large? What ‘afterlife’ do they have?
  • How do TB/LL reconfigure (or reinforce) power structures, inequalities and subjectivities?
  • How do TB/LL differ across sites, cultures, scales, and technological domains? How do models and their outcomes travel?
  • What interventions of economic actors and public bodies do TB/LL support?
  • How can test beds enable new opportunities for responsible innovation governance?

For submission details:

Deadline: February 1st, 2019

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions,

Gianluigi Viscusi, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, (

Jack Stilgoe, University College London (

Brice Laurent, Centre de sociologie de l’innovation, Mines ParisTech, (

Sebastian Pfotenhauer, Technical University Munich (

Sophie Nyborg, Technical University of Denmark (