ProFit: network of FieldLabs

The EU-project ProFit aims to stimulate innovation and new business creation in the sportssector by developing a network of FieldLabs focused on sport. ProFit is funded by the European Union, under the Interreg IVB North West Europe programme.

Breeding place for sports innovation and business creation

A  FieldLab for sports innovation is a research and development location in a real-life setting where citizens engage in sports and play activities. Businesses can install new product prototypes or production models in the FieldLab where the end-users can use and test them as part of regular sports activity. FieldLabs initiate and stimulate cooperation between sports, business as well as knowledge, health and government institutes. They work together on development, validation, realization and introduction of new products, services, interventions and facilities. A FieldLab is an instrument for innovation and a breeding place that facilitates business creation. At the same time, cities create attractive spaces that contribute to health and well-being, their citizens will have new playgrounds to meet and have fun.   Public private partnership The FieldLab concept originates from Eindhoven (Netherlands). In 2008 the first facility of this kind was realized on municipality sports grounds in a cooperative structure between public and private parties.

Sports, business as well as knowledge, health and government institutes together can create golden triangles.

“The FieldLab is a showcase for interactive sports and playing, and an excellent testing surrounding for the development of our new products.”

Jeroen Frissen, director i3Sports, Eindhoven (Netherlands)  

“ProFit is the beginning of an exciting journey that I hope will bring about a new paradigm for sport and exercise innovation.”

Steve Haake, director Centre for Sports Engineering Research, Sheffield Hallam University.

Four cities, five universities

The ProFit project will develop FieldLabs in four European cities: Eindhoven (Netherlands), Delft (Netherlands), Kortrijk (Belgium) and Sheffield (UK). A supportive research programme provides scientific rigour to the development and operation of the FieldLabs and products. Participating universities are Sheffield Hallam University, University of Ulster, Eindhoven University of Technology, Delft University of Technology and Howest (University College West Flanders).

Research

The research support programme within ProFit will investigate the needs of potential users in each FieldLab as a basis for creating inviting environments. Furthermore, it will develop co-design tools for supporting multi stakeholder communication in open innovation processes (led by TU Eindhoven). It also will provide businesses with scientific and relevant feedback on the effects of their prototypes and/or products to facilitate accelerated product development. The results showing the economic benefits for business creation as well as benefits for health and well-being – will convince cities, regions and businesses to invest in FieldLabs. The lead role for this research is carried out by Sheffield Hallam University. SHU is one of the biggest providers of sport, health, social care and teacher training in the UK. The Centre for Sports Engineering Research (CSER), part of the Faculty of Health & Wellbeing, is internationally renowned. It focuses on developing fundamental understanding of the complex sporting environment and the creation of innovative technology applications. The research within the ProFit framwork involves establishing methods and mechanisms to enable the measurement of FieldLab performance data (product, people, societal, environmental). The essential element in this will be the design and installation of measurement systems. Initial foundations for each FieldLab have been established through a user needs analysis in all city locations (led by TU Delft).  

Monitoring

One of the main benefits of a FieldLab for its stakeholders is the provision of quantitative and qualitative data on user experiences with innovation relating to sport ,exercise and play in a public space. This data is generated by the use of fixed and mobile monitoring systems that capture information on the users’ movement within the space, and interaction with the objects and equipment (products) within it.   In order to facilitate this unique system for monitoring, data collection and analysis the FieldLabs in the participating cities have been equipped with ducting, cabling, small wireless sensors and special high-definition pan-tilt-zoom cameras that can track user movement while they are undertaking activity. Within the project also special software is being developed. For qualitative data collection (user feedback), outdoor touch screen kiosks will be installed. This forms part of another innovation in the FieldLab to use digital media to provide useful information to the users about the FieldLab, and also enable the users to leave audio or video feedback in an open format, or in response to specific questions.