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.  

Delft

In the city of Delft the new FieldLab was officially opened in October 2012. The FieldLab has been installed as part of the existing green playground ‘Bomenwijk’, situated within a residential area, next to an elderly home and surrounded by several schools and a neighbourhood with quite a number of young families. Step by step the FieldLab will be expanded as a way to update and upgrade the existing playground. The first innovative equipment has been placed.

Delft Projects

Eindhoven

The FieldLab site in Eindhoven (Netherlands), which was formerly a football field, consists of one grass pitch, four different artificial grass pitches and a range of playground equipment, both interactive and adapted for special target groups like elderly. The testing site is surrounded by a two lane athletics track and an asphalt track. Activities like school sports, children’s parties and corporate outings take place on these multifunctional sports grounds.

Eindhoven Projects

Sheffield

FieldLab Sheffield is situated in Lowfield Open Space, a 2-hectare site which previously was a low-quality under-utilised green space, but has just undergone a major transformation. The refurbished park will provide innovative outdoor exercise opportunities. Lowfield is situated in the Sharrow area, known for its high proportion of young people, culturally diverse population and high concentration of disadvantaged families. The new Lowfield Park is fully open, together with the Lowfield U-Mix Centre. The FieldLab includes an artificial grass pitch (AGP) for football, adventurous play equipment, a community garden and an open grassed area with seating. Also lots of improvements to the adjoining Lowfield Primary School have been made such as a dance studio, a multi gym, an activity hall and a performing arts space. Partners: Bart Wolfs, Spinnov, FieldLab Sheffield, ProFit

Sheffield Projects

Kortrijk

FieldLab Kortrijk is situated at the redeveloped borders of the Leie river and includes several, dispersed locations. Activating the borders is the main goal of the FieldLab in Kortrijk and different target groups will be addressed. Students, aged 16-25, are a first target group. Kortrijk is hoping to offer these youngsters a changing environment with various sports and possibilities. In a first phase, the square in front of the new faculty building Digital Arts and Entertainment of Howest University will be redeveloped. Another location in this first phase is a basketball cage at the river quay. As a result of the ProFit Innovation competition 2012 a concept with LED-lights will be installed to provide this cage with interactive features in order to motivate students and others to be active in and around this location. Future developments are planned in relation to spaces under the seven bridges along the river in the inner city and the other side of the city center. Near the biggest college of Kortrijk and Buda Beach, children and younger students, aged 10-18, are the main target group. Several possibilities will be considered in order to create an active environment for inhabitants and the occasional passerby.

Kortrijk Projects