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Live Labs Blog: the final programme review

After three years, the Live Labs Programme has published its final evaluation. Undertaken for Live Labs by Proving Services, the independent review covers everything the programme and each individual Live Lab has faced - both challenges and successes. Proving's Karen Farquharson takes us through...

In March 2022, and after almost three years since its launch, Proving completed the final independent Live Lab Programme and project management review. This was an original and ambitious programme not just in terms of the innovations, but in how the projects were funded, structured and delivered. The programme has been a great success, evaluating a significant range of innovations that will benefit the host authority and the wider highways sector. 

Through its role in the monitoring and evaluation of the Live Labs programme, Proving has observed a real energy and enthusiasm for innovation; encouraging equitable and effective collaboration between local authorities, large private sector providers, SMEs, academia and government agencies such Connected Places Catapult.

The consensus was that the ‘light-touch’ and trust-based approach to Live Labs monitoring and evaluation was successful, providing a structured and consistent assessment without being too intrusive and bureaucratic.

At all stages of the programme, Proving has found the project and programme managers to be forthcoming and honest about the challenges they have faced. The programme management team were always keen to emphasise that the projects were not in competition with each other and that an ethos of shared learning and mutual support should be adopted. Although virtual meetings are an efficient use of time, Proving observed that more informal get-togethers are an invaluable forum for exchanging ideas and building networks.

As highlighted in the report, Proving identified key lessons and suggested changes for future, similar initiatives, all of which have been accepted by the Live Labs Commissioning Board. The most important is to ensure that all the learning acquired is captured and made available in a useful and accessible format, informing the sector and building on the benefits realised.

Live Labs provides a solid foundation for successfully delivering future innovation that will help tackle the challenges facing the sector, including carbon reduction. The momentum gained in this new way of cross-sector funding and working should not be lost.

Live Labs Programme Review & Final Project Evaluations is available here.

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