The “Innovating Neighbourhood”, a living laboratory in social geriatrics

Launched in 2019 and supported by the Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (Montreal University Institute of Geriatrics Research Centre, or CRIUGM), the Living Lab created by Quartier innovant works with and on behalf of senior citizens to find ways to maintain their quality of life in the Côte-des-Neiges district of Montréal.

Why take a co-creation approach?

At the local level, communities have long been confronted with complex challenges— both ecological and societal—concerning the preservation of their living environments. Multiple divergent interests operate on the same territory, generating distinct challenges that are experienced by all members of the community, to the point of discouraging them from acting.

We have seen, however, that tangible, lasting and immediate benefits can be achieved through an innovative mindset that values the diversity of knowledge, the capacity of communities to act, co-creation, experimentation and iterative work.

Seniors involved in the Innovative District at one of the Living Lab workshops.

Seniors involved in the Innovative District at one of the Living Lab workshops.

Using these specific methodologies, the Living Lab makes sure that this innovative approach prioritizes the people who are so often excluded from the process of developing new products or services that concern them. Alongside the elderly participants, stakeholders from the research, private and public, and socio-community sectors work together to create projects on three chosen themes: cognition, communication, and mobility.

Though the focus is on healthy ageing, other benefits are emerging from the process, such as the strengthening of intergenerational ties and increased social inclusion in a Montreal borough where 45% of seniors live alone.

How does a structure like the Living Lab foster innovation?

Despite the wealth of knowledge and advanced mechanisms emerging from research on ageing well, their uptake by seniors remains a challenge. And without users, innovation is moot.

To ensure that a solution suits the needs of the people using it and is compatible with the communities in which it is implemented, we must venture beyond the university walls and reach out to future users, using empathy to collaborate with them and appreciate all forms of knowledge.

This factor motivated the Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal – CIUSSS Centre-sud-de-l’île-de-Montréal to choose the living lab as a tool for collective innovation. In this video, you’ll learn about the the main stages involved in the creation of the Quartier innovant, which the Maison de l’innovation sociale (MIS) accompanied.

Strategic support for the Quartier innovant

After strengthening the team’s methodological capacity to take a human-centred design approach, and within the scope of its R&D social work, the MIS worked with supporters of the approach, the development of several tools intended for service providers, merchants, volunteers from community organizations, and seniors living in low-income housing.

The MIS continue to support project teams by focusing on the transfer of skills, tools, and knowledge, with the goal of gradually increasing the long- term autonomy of the research groups.

Nathalie Bier, Chercheuse, CIUSS Centre-sud-de- l’île-de-Montréal – Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (CRIUGM)

Photos credit: Charles-Olivier Bourque

The MIS has played, and continues to play, a critical role in mentoring the stakeholders of the Quartier innovant, particularly in terms of governance, the codesign process, and the posture to adopt when mediating a living lab. The MIS knows how to put in place the winning conditions for the emergence of an innovation! Also, we greatly appreciate the human qualities of its team.

Nathalie Bier, Researcher, CIUSS Centre-sud-de- l’île-de-Montréal – Research Centre of the University Institute of Geriatrics of Montréal (CRIUGM)

Partners of the Quartier innovant initiative

Our other projects

Discover the other projects lead by our team in Strategic advisory and Social R&D.