The increasing speed at which new technologies such as telemedicine, big data, or the Internet of Things are becoming part of our society shows that the classic innovation model, which has its beginning and end within the same organization, is no longer enough. The collection and analysis of data, technological development, or change management all pass through the hands of different stakeholders and, therefore, understanding and addressing the new challenges must be a collaborative effort.

Grupo Ferrer, with a presence in 128 countries and a turnover of more than 560 million, understands this and works with a strong community focus. In addition to being the first Spanish pharmaceutical laboratory to join the B Corp Community, it donates 61.4% of its net profits to social and environmental causes.

With this mindset, Ferrer contacted Opinno last year to conceptualize and design an Innovation Hub that would break the boundaries of the company to seek opportunities for improvement and a positive impact on people and society. The goal was to bring together different players in the healthcare industry – including professionals, entrepreneurs and patients – to understand their needs in depth and jointly design possible innovative solutions.  As a result of this collaboration, Living Lab by Ferrer is already a key tool for boosting innovation projects with a real impact.

During the first months we worked on the conceptualization of the project, which involved defining the key pillars and objectives of the Hub, the structure, activities and roles of the technical office, and a tailor-made visual and verbal identity,” says the team responsible for the project at Opinno.

Another key activity before launching the initiative was to establish the relational model with the community, as well as the channels and messages to be used. A website was also designed to serve as a resource for innovative content and to give visibility to the activities developed by the Living Lab.

Once the entire structure of the Hub had been determined, the planning of its activities and program began, with a focus on promoting innovation and encouraging partnerships between entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector and healthcare professionals. These activities were developed following the three main conceptualized pillars, which today continue to be the guideline to follow: Connect, Collaborate and Build.

The Connect area seeks to create a dynamic and collaborative community. The main activity in this area has been the Thematic Coffees in round table discussions, where key players in the industry have been selected to share their experience and projects developed around healthcare trends such as Smart Hospitals or the problem of communication between primary and hospital care. These events are held as face-to-face meeting points for the healthcare community, in order to spark debates and share diverse points of view that provide knowledge and added value for both the audience and the participating speakers.

Within the framework of Collaborate, the objective is to design and think collaboratively, with different stakeholders, solutions to the needs of the healthcare sector. Work is carried out in three back-to-back sessions, through which the participants in each session are guided to analyze their current situation, identify the major challenges they face, and develop ideas and Lo-Fi prototypes of potential solutions. This has been done using the Living Lab's own methodology along with other methodologies such as Design Thinking.

The collaborative development of prototypes leads us to the last pillar of the Hub: Build. Here we promote initiatives with a positive impact on the sector, developing ideas conceptualized in the co-creation sessions or from external agents that meet the purpose of the Hub and want to work in a network. We carry out concept tests with the users involved so that they can take it to their real-life environment and obtain a first validation.

The initiative is already proving to be very well-received, and the community has been growing over time. Feedback from participants at the various events has been overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating that the Hub is capable of meeting its objectives and providing value and positive impact for the healthcare professionals and stakeholders who have joined it.

Looking to the future, Ferrer and Opinno will continue working to further develop the Living Lab ecosystem, specifically enhancing the ability to Collaborate and Build in order to become a leader in the development of new initiatives or agile solutions that meet the needs of the community.