Test, trial and refine your clean energy products, services, and policies with real people in real homes

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What is the Living Lab?

The Living Lab is a community of thousands of households, who are ready to participate in trials of new clean energy innovations. Living Lab households are spread across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and cover a wide variety of tenures, property types and demographics, including vulnerable and fuel poor households.

We capture energy data from homes via mainstream smart meters, smart heating controls, battery storage, solar PV, electric vehicles and chargers, heat meters and more. We can also flex the operation of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging and heating systems, to test how these might be used in future energy systems. All these technologies are linked via our Digital Integration Platform.

The Whole Energy Systems Accelerator (WESA) combines Living Lab with PNDC’s capabilities in network emulation and the Catapult’s ability to run real-time simulations of future energy system scenarios. This enables us to run trials that model the network impact of new innovations and test how they would perform under future market conditions.

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VIDEO: How does the Living Lab help clean tech start-ups test smart energy innovations in real world homes?

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Everything you need to know about the Living Lab...

Can anyone use the Living Lab?

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The lab is set up to support all organisations, from large to small, that are innovating in domestic energy, including: 

  • Startups/SME innovators 
  • Established companies 
  • Energy retailers 
  • Network operators 
  • Financial institutions 
  • Policymakers and regulators

How does the Living Lab work?

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We work with you to scope, design, run, and analyse trials to meet your innovation needs.

We can draw on a range of consultancy services from within the Catapult such as Consumer Insight (including expertise with low income and vulnerable consumers), Systems Integration, Data Science, Business Model Innovation, Markets, Policy & Regulation to help accelerate your product or service to market.

Step 1: Work with you to define the trial objectives, research activities, target homes, and consultancy services required.

Step 2: Recruit suitable homes around the UK that fit the target market for your innovation.

Step 3: Where needed, install any additional equipment.

Step 4: Run the trial: including data monitoring, control of equipment, and research activities as defined with you in step 1.

Step 5:  Analyse and report on qualitative and quantitative performance of the innovation.

Why test in the Living Lab? 

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A clever new innovation might work well under controlled conditions in a laboratory, or in a model.

But it can be much more complicated to make it work for real people, in real homes, with real demands on their time. And that’s where we can help.

The Living Lab helps you de-risk the development and launch of your product or service. We provide a safe environment to run trials directly with real consumers in their own homes. We’re independent and objective, and we’ll recruit the participants.

How do I join the Living Lab as a participant?

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Interested in joining the Living Lab as a participant?

It doesn’t matter who you are, what kind of home you live in, whether you’re into the latest technology or need a bit of reassurance with it. Whatever your circumstances, you can sign up on our recruitment site here.

Design, test, refine

Product trials

Evaluate the real world performance of your product and interoperability with mainstream technologies in real homes.

Service trials

Evaluate the real world performance of your service using mainstream technologies in real homes.

Consumer insights

Understand how people use your product or service, what works for them, what doesn’t and why.  

Business models and value propositions

Unlock value and find credible, investable routes to market, with our unique mix of energy, engineering and commercial experts who can help identify, design, and validate newbusiness models. 

Data and insights

Comprehensive monitoring of energy use, outcomes, and innovation performance using sensors in Living Lab homes linked by our digital integration platform. 

Proving the value of flexibility

Validating the ability of your new innovation to deliver flexibility to networks, both in today’s energy market and under a range of future market conditions, using Whole Energy Systems Accelerator (WESA). 

Contact us

Arrange a free virtual session with the Living Lab team to discuss a range of options for how best to deliver your trial.

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Discover other businesses using the Living Lab

Product Performance & Consumer Insight

Scottish innovator arbnco is trialling a new digital air quality platform with consumers in the Living Lab with the aim of reducing indoor air pollution, improving ventilation, and safeguarding health.

Around seven million deaths worldwide, and 40,000 in the UK, are attributed to air pollution each year. Yet indoor air quality – including levels of carbon dioxide (CO₂), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) – can often be overlooked compared to outdoor air quality linked to vehicle emissions, despite being up to five times worse in places.

Analysing the air quality results with data on the property and occupants will allow arbnco to deliver alerts on potential harms and advice on mitigating health impacts.

With a growing focus on improving ventilation in buildings due to Covid-19, coupled with the need to improve energy efficiency and therefore the airtightness of homes, the global ventilation market is expanding rapidly, already exceeding £2b in value and expected to reach almost £9b by 2027.

The Living Lab trial comes in the slipstream of arbnco being awarded almost £300k in funding from Innovate UK’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition, which is supporting innovators in developing and demonstrating new products and services which monitor a wide range of household pollutants.

arbnco believe there is a strong market for their solution with housing portfolio owners, such as the private rented sector and with purpose-built student accommodation, as well as with equipment manufacturers – including Mitsubishi, who are aiming to integrate arbnco’s air quality platform into their domestic ventilation systems for testing.

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