Testbeds Stockholm’s Bagarmossen & Lahti City

Smart Retro community has been a forerunner in experimental culture and in service development through rapid testing. As a part of Smart Retro Acceleration Program startups, entrepreneurs, big companies and cities tested new services in real life, with real people. Altogether 15 experiments have been run in two testbed areas, Lahti City Centre, Bagarmossen suburb in Stockholm and online. Read about the tests, understand the purpose of testbeds and get to know ‘Bagis’ and Lahti City Centre on this page.

Smart Retro tests

What is a testbed?

At the Peloton Smart Retro Acceleration Program’s Innovation Camps, the new product or service concepts of the entrepreneurs and startups will be developed better with the partners, community leaders and experts So the camps are about co-creation. After that, in the testbed phase these concepts will be tested in real life, with real people in collaboration with a partner or partners. The testbed phase is about experimentation: the startups and entrepreneurs will conduct a temporary experiment where they together with users and partners try out their new service or product concept in a real-life environment. The goal is to learn about the concepts together.

The experiment means that volunteer users use the concept in their everyday lives. Depending of the concept, it might happen in their homes, or in their mobile phones, or it might be a temporary service point in the urban space or in an existing shop. The experiment can run from days to two months. The experiment will be partly designed at the Bagarmossen part of the Peloton Smart Retro innovation camp. The partner for the experiment can be one of the partner organizations involved in Smart Retro or a local entrepreneur, or even a new one.

The experiment is meant to gather feedback and knowledge on the concept. For example: How people use it? When? For what? Will they return to use it? Who uses it? What is the value of it for them? Which features are important for them and what not? Does it work technically? What does not work? What works? Does the system work? How does the collaboration between the producer and partner work? Are people or partners willing to pay for it? So many questions, but only certain questions will be chosen to be learnt about during one experiment.

The companies are not the only ones who learn. The users also learn about new products and services and how they can help them in their everyday lives. They might become regular users of the services later on.

The results of the experiment (the feedback and knowledge) are used to evaluate and improve, or radically change, the concept or the business model. Some of the improvements and changes, also known as iterations, will be done already during the experiment.

Feedback and results gained in the experiment are also used to convince new customers, users, partners or investors to buy the service, to collaborate with the company or invest in it.

The value of testbeds and experiments is also that they help to imagine together what is possible and what the future of an area and the life in it could be like and thus help to generate more action after we have been inspired by the experiment.

See pictures of the opening event of an testbed in Kalasatama area of Helsinki, as a part of Fiksu Kalasatama project . The concepts tested in this testbed include Piggy Baggy, which is a peer-to-peer service for transportation of goods, a self-service mini-library by the City of Helsinki, an organic food buying club, electric car rental service and solar panels for urban use. These experiments in Kalasatama run for a month and people use them in their normal everyday life. If you want to know about more why experimentation is important, see a video on experimental culture.

In spring 2015 we looked for residents who want to be the test users and co-developers of new sustainable services later in spring: 80 signed up!

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Bagarmossen, Stockholm

Bagarmossen, also called “Bagis” by the residents, is a suburb located southeast of central Stockholm with 11 000 inhabitants. Bagarmossen was built mostly during the 1950s, and remains a relatively well-preserved ’50s suburb. The apartment buildings along Byälvsvägen were built in the early 1970s as a part of the million programme. New apartment buildings were constructed near the metro station in the early 1990s, and in recent years, Bagarmossen has seen several new developments. When the area was first built in the 1950s, it received some international recognition because of the consistent separation of pedestrian and road traffic – leading to plenty of walking paths. Bagarmossen is served by the Bagarmossen metro station.

In 2011 Stockholmshem started a new project in a district of Stockholm called Hökarängen. The name of the project was ”Hållbara Hökarängen”, “Sustainable Hökarängen”. The aim with the project was partly to strengthen local business and other important local activities, partly to support and develop sustainable lifestyles among the local inhabitants. The project reached its goal and turned out to be a rewarding way of working with local development. Therefore Stockholmshem decided to try this method in other districts as well, and now Bagarmossen was chosen to be a follow up.

This new project has the working name “Blomstrande Bagarmossen”, in English “Thriving  Bagarmossen. The aim of the project is to capture the local commitment to sustainability and strengthen the positive trend in Bagarmossen. The projects vision for Bagarmossen is to contribute to a more sustainable neighbourhood by taking care of the local qualities and creativity that thrives in Bagarmossen. The project is based on three specific parts: 1) Develop the city center 2) Support initiative and to develop existing urban gardening projects 3) Support and develop local creative business and clusters

Get to know Bagarmossen:

  • Bagisbloggen, a vivid blog offering insight into Bagarmossen’s life, also in Facebook 
  • Bagis.nu, local news from Bagarmossen
    Photo of Bagarmossen by Mangan02,via Wikimedia Commons [licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Lahti City Centre

City of Lahti hosts an innovation camp event and offers urban testbeds for proofing the concepts that take part in Smart Retro Acceleration program as well as provides the expertise of the city’s experts to the use of the companies. Lahti is 9th largest city in Finland with 103 000 inhabitants and 5500 employees. It is a local authority and municipality with broad spectrum of public services ranging from social, health care, educational, technical to environmental services.

Lahti was the fastest growing city of Finland after the second World War, and the city’s built environment was largely formed during 1950-1970’s. Thus in Lahti we are suddenly facing the refurbishment need of the majority of buildings.  At the very same time, the city center of Lahti is undergoing a large change in traffic, transportation and parking systems and refurbishment of buildings. However, it is not clear to what extent those physical changes in the urban structure will impact on sustainability of public and private services. Our aim is to accelerate the growth of new services and business ideas, which would benefit from the investments made for the city environment.

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The city centre of Lahti, Aleksanterinkatu (Alexander’s street), main street of Lahti
(Photo by Passixxxx, via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under 
 CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)])