This Frequently Asked Questions list started in response to questions asked by visitors to the Be Curious event which took place at the University in April 2017. We’ll continue to update it so if you can’t find what you’re looking for please let us know, or contact Thom Cooper.

1.    What is a Living Lab?

The University of Leeds Living Lab for sustainability is about tackling global challenges at a local scale, researching and testing sustainable and innovative ideas which are scalable, replicable and transferable, and driving us as an organisation to think and operate differently.

Whether it’s a research-led campus design addressing the challenges of climate change, trialling new sustainability initiatives with staff or students, or integrating biodiversity and wellbeing, the Living Lab programme opens up our University as a test bed for creating new, sustainable solutions. It’s about people, processes and infrastructure and focusses on the cultural and social sciences as well as the STEM subjects.

A Living Lab project should seek to meet as many of our Living Lab Principles as possible.

2.    How can I get involved in a Living Lab project at the University?

The University of Leeds Living Lab Programme is open to all staff and students across the University, whether academic or professional, undergraduate or postgraduate.

If you have an idea or proposal for a Living Lab project please complete our short Living Lab Application Form (you can find this through the main Living Lab webpage) and send it to Thom Cooper in the Sustainability Service at

If you’d like to get involved with an existing project, or discuss projects prior to application, you can email Thom directly or give him a call on 0113 343 0508

3.    How does the Living Lab impact me?

The Living Lab provides the prospect for staff and students at the University of Leeds to work together to deliver projects which drive sustainable improvement to the management of our campus, develop new and creative teaching opportunities, and drive impactful, transdisciplinary research. For example:

If you work in University operations/professional services – are you seeking solutions to challenges that you and your team face in a project or on a daily basis? Could a researcher provide valuable insight into your challenge through their work? Could a student project deliver the data or best practice you need to develop a business case?

If you are a researcher (student or academic) – are you looking for opportunities to frame your research around real-life sustainability challenges? Could you dissertation, PhD or paper help to improve the sustainability of the University and inspire transformational change from a local to global scale? Could you collaborate with different disciplines to investigate other aspects of your research area?

If you are a lecturer/module lead – our campus offers opportunities to develop and diversify your teaching methods and materials. Could you utilise a unique space or activity taking place at the University to engage your students in real life case studies? Are there ways you could work with the Facilities Directorate to develop space or materials relating to the operations of the University?

4.    How will the Living Lab incorporate the local community in research?

One of the core principles of the Living Lab is that the project should be transferable, scalable and replicable from our local scale to the city, national and global scale.

The Living Lab is an opportunity to increase impact and take more value from research and learning at the University.

We encourage our partners to co-create their projects with external stakeholders wherever practicable and we always seek opportunities to share our learning through publications, events and activities.

To find out more about how we’re being a Positive Partner in Society click here

5.    What are the topics/themes that the Living Lab is focussed on?

Living Lab projects relate to any topic or theme as long as it aligns with our core Living Lab Principles. It’s about people, processes and infrastructure and focusses on the cultural and social sciences as well as the STEM subjects.

Make sure you consider:

  • How the project addresses the University’s Strategic Plan and Sustainability Strategy
  • How the project addresses the University’s Global Challenges
  • How it integrates research, student education and University operations
  • Does it seek sustainable solutions to ‘real world’ challenges faced by the University of Leeds?
  • Are you using the campus as your test-bed?
  • Is the project interdisciplinary?
  • How does the project engage stakeholders through e.g. co-creation or participatory research?

To discover some of our key areas of focus take a look at the Sustainability Strategy and our Sustainability Report.

6.    Are Living Lab projects funded by the University?

Where possible we aim to help those applying for external funding to demonstrate research impact through the principles of cross-discipline Living Lab projects.

The Living Lab programme is able to financially support some projects and this might include match funding, seed funding or small grants. The amount available is dependent on the scale of the project, its outcomes, and sources of other funding available.

We encourage anyone considering a Living Lab project to complete the Application Form (you can find this through the main Living Lab webpage) to highlight any funding needs to us at the earliest possible stage.

We will consider funding procurement of equipment, usually where the amount can be match funded, including through time and resource in delivery of the project. Unless explicitly agreed, equipment purchased by the Living Lab will remain property of the University of Leeds and be managed by the Sustainability Service.