What is a living lab

Living Labs offer real-life research opportunities in real-life environments. They offer evidence based feedback, recommendations and research opportunities for students and researchers.

Examples of how we are a living lab

Summer School of Sustainable Practice


The Summer School in Sustainable Practice is an annual 2-week intensive course, aimed at providing students with a broad introduction to key concepts and ideas in the theory and practice of sustainability. During first week students attend two local fieldtrips and on the second week carry out group projects which can either be public information campaigns or citizen science projects on campus

Upon completion, students receive the Certificate in Sustainable Practice, which will appear on their Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR).

Essex BioBlitz project


The Essex BioBlitz is a citizen science project run in partnership by Dr Dave Clark (University of Essex) and the Essex Wildlife Trust, aiming to investigate how climate change is influencing wildflowers in the region. Specifically, the project will shed light on how flower phenology (the timing and duration of blooming) is changing in response to climatic change and extreme weather events, such as the record droughts experienced during the summer of 2022. Members of the public can contribute by submitting photos of wild plants in bloom via a free app, iNaturalist, which will then enable us to analyse peak flowering times of all the species observed throughout Essex.

The University of Essex campus has proven to be an excellent source of data for this project, with a varied range of habitats hosting a diverse plant community. In last year’s BioBlitz campaign (2022), more than 400 observations were made of flowering plants on campus and a further 190 observations have been made so far this year, underlining the importance of the site to ongoing research. Additionally, as the campus grounds are so easily accessible, they have provided an ideal venue to organise ‘BioBlitz walks’ for students and staff, further engaging the University community with active scientific research, enhancing knowledge of our local botany, and providing participants with the well-established mental health benefits of interacting with nature.

If you are carrying out research linking to a living lab or the Sustainable Development Goals, we would love to hear about it.