Denmark, Copenhagen,  AAU DESIS Lab

For Admission

Starts: 16 May, 2016
Duration :
Instructors: Denmark, Copenhagen, AAU DESIS Lab
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Aalborg University, AAU DESIS Lab

Coordinator: Nicola Morelli
Operation manager: to be defined

Hosting institution: Aalborg University, Department of Architecture, Design And Media Technology (Aalborg, Copenhagen, Denmark)


The DESIS Denmark is built upon the experience of the a department of AD:MT in several research projects, mainly based on a tight collaboration between the university and public administrations in northern Jutland. Among them, two projects, Life 2.0 and My Neighborhood, are EU funded projects in which the researchers at Aalborg University built up a fruitful interaction with Aalborg Kommune for the development of projects for elderly people and for people affected by handicap.

Those projects are being developed with the aim of creating effective and innovative solutions to support life quality and independence of those categories of citizens, in a historical period in which public administrations are looking for new approaches to face a general financial crisis and a specific need to reduce expenses for public services.

Beyond the specific applications and services developed in such projects a need has emerged, for a better definition of an approach focused on social innovation, it’s emerging signs and the strategies that can support it.

At the same time a clear pattern is emerging within several AAU departments and in other organizations, External to AAU, that consist in a series of studies and initiatives to define and frame social innovation, according to different competences and disciplinary areas.

Notably, a new project on social innovation has been recently funded by the EU and coordinated by the ad Danish Teknologisk Institut and the Young Foundation (UK). The project also refers to a Danish Netwrok of local administrations for social innovation. Such network involves several danish municipalities, that are activating resources to generate social innovation.

DESIS Denmark will aim at generating new knowledge on social innovation, consisting in

  •   Concrete cases, emerging from existing, past and future projects
  • A methodological approach to social innovation, that includes design methodologies to develop and scaling up services and initiatives for social innovation
  • Specific methods and tools emerging from the research projects and from any other source of information available
  • Specific indications on how designers or a design approach can contribute to support social innovation in public services

As mentioned above, the activities of the DESIS Denmark are based on existing EU funded projects, such as Life 2.0 and My Neighborhood. Further activities are promoted through teaching activities in the Master of Service Systems Design at AAU-Copenhagen.

Life 2.0 created an online Platform to Support Eliderly people’s indipendent life. the Platform has been partially developed in the project, but The local administration in Aalborg is willing to develop it to an operative level, thus activating a network of actors around this project to support the future developments. The challenge for this project is to validate a business model proposed by the life 2.0 team and create a concrete service for elderly people and local community.

The My Neighborhood project started in 2013. The project aims at creating an online platform that supports citizens’ interaction to promote initiatives and services at the local level. The platform will include applications and tools that will possibly be co-designed by citizens.

Starting from those two projects other activities will be planned. There is also a plan to give DESIS Denmark a concrete location, where people can find examples, documentation on existing projects, bibliographical resources and possibly access to the Life 2.0 platform or any other online initiative developed in the future. The idea is to open a small exhibition space in a public location (possibly a public library), to present the living lab and introduce the concept of social innovation. In long term the space could be kept in a permanent location and become the reference centre for social innovation initiatives in the area.

Teaching activities are used to contact new groups and to consider new research areas that are not immediately funded through external funding schemes. Teaching activities so far have produced projects in collaboration with Aalborg Hospital, Local restaurants and meal providers for elderly people, libraries, solidarity purchasing groups and urban garden associations. Small projects and concepts have been developed by the students in collaboration with the above mentioned stakeholders. The results of such projects has often been the basis for larger projects, now in the pipeline.

Primary research areas

The initial activity had an external reference in the department of senior and handicap people at Aalborg Kommune, therefore the primary focus of some of the previous research projects, especially Life 2.0 was on those categories of citizens. However in the the following activities, namely in the developments of the My Neighbourhood project and in teaching activities related to this area other groups are being included, including young generations, migrants, asylum seekers or local solidarity purchasing groups.


AAU internal
Dept of AD:MT:a small task force is now involved in the above mentioned projects and in the planning of  future activities it includes:

Nicola Morelli, Professor MSO (service design, Social Innovation)

Lotte achristiansen, PhD student (service design in the healthcare sector)

Maria Wnther Kristensen, research assistant (service design, User participation and co-design)

Amalia De Götzen, Assistant professor (Interaction in services, distributed systems)

Francesco Grani, Reseach Assistant (Physical Interaction Design)

Other departments

Department of landscape and planning
Chiara Fratini (Participation, urban governance)
Birgitte Hoffmann (Participation, urban governance)

Department of humanities
Søren Bolvig Poulsen (user driven innovation)
Pirkko Raudaskoski (humanistic informatics)

Aalborg Kommune
Department for Elderly and disabled people (Ældre og handikapsforvaltning)

Projects and research

Life 2.0, location based and social networking services to support Elderly people’s independent life

My neighborhood ICT and social media to recreate the sense of Urban Neighborhood