S. Luojus, S. Kauppinen, J. Lahti

Laurea University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
Societal challenges such as the ageing population, inequality, energy security and others are global and transnational in nature. They cannot be addressed by any government, institution, or discipline acting alone. During the last years inclusive, innovative and reflective societies has started to search a solution for societal challenges by promoting new forms of innovation and systematic engagement of citizens in the innovation process. However, creation of a new kind of innovation culture requires broad cooperation of public administrations, organizations, companies, NGOs, universities, and creative individuals.

Service design is seen as a significant driver for sustainable innovation regarding services as means for societal transformation. Service design approach provides methods and tools, not only for engaging citizens into open innovation process, but also for supporting both the designers and the citizens in their creativity and interpretations during the design process.

This paper describes an experiment that addresses developing an elective study unit in service design at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

The objectives of the development work were:
(1) to provide students with competence to use diverse development methods and tools flexible at all stages of the service design process;
(2) to create sustainable social innovations in co-operation with citizens, public administrators, 3rd sector, companies, and technology developers;
(3) to create an open innovation process model to involve multidisciplinary students, citizens, companies, and the public and third sectors in the development of digital services.

Action research was chosen as the research strategy for this development work due to its practical and hands-on nature. Action research changes things, not just to add academic knowledge. It is relevant that the researcher parties participate in the development process that proceeds in cycles.

A cycle of action research consists of four phases:
(1) planning,
(2) acting,
(3) observing and
(4) reflecting.

This study consists of three cycles.
The development work was conducted during the multidisciplinary master’s degree service design studies (2015 – 2016) in the project called WeLive ( The WeLive project was devised to transform the current e-Government approach by facilitating a more open model of design, production and delivery of public services leveraging on the collaboration between public sector, citizens and entrepreneurs. WeLive applies the service design approach to deliver next generation personalised digital services to citizens. For that, it contributes with the WeLive platform, an ICT infrastructure where stakeholders collaborate in the ideation, creation, funding and deployment of new digital services.

The outcomes of the development work were:
(1) improved teaching model in line with the service design process, with the aim of providing students with the ability to act as service designers and innovation processes developers, and
(2) an open innovation process model to involve universities (multidisciplinary students), citizens, companies, and the public and third sectors in the development of public services and to facilitate rich interaction between citizens/communities and other stakeholders.