Innovation to improve society

Welcome to Openlab – a creative center for societal innovation in the Stockholm region. Together with key stakeholders in the region, we create conditions for forward-thinking solutions that enhance the quality of life for its residents. Through open innovation, a playful seriousness, and the courage to test ideas at an early stage, we equip our partners and clients to find solutions to complex challenges. Established in 2013 by the City of Stockholm, Region Stockholm, KTH, Stockholm University, Södertörn University and Karolinska Institutet, we have grown to become experts in collaboration and design methods for innovation in the public sector.”

Openlab entrance
“We solve society’s challenges in a new radical way. The methods we use and the way we define those challenges are all important cornerstones for us. The proposals we generate are open, progressive, smart, useable, concrete and innovative.”

Ivar Björkman, Executive Director at Openlab

Our vision

Openlab’s vision is to be one of the leading environments in the Stockholm region that enables societal innovations within Agenda 2030 and the global goals. By developing and gathering the region’s innovative capacity across knowledge boundaries, Openlab’s initiatives build sustainability in their partners’ work and improve the quality of life for residents.

Design methods for innovation

It is through methods that focus on user needs that we can create truly sustainable and effective solutions to the various challenges in society. The user-centered method we mainly work with is design thinking. Design thinking is both a process and an approach that helps you define your challenge and understand your target groups.

Perhaps you use other words to refer to your “target groups” or “users” in your work. It could be students, patients, clients, customers, commuters, citizens, residents etc. By understanding and gaining insights about their reality, we can generate ideas and work creatively and visually to solidify different solutions. Testing the proposals with the target group and working iteratively ensures that the solution meets the users’ needs and expectations.

The double diamond model, an illustration of the design thinking process.

Take a course

Learn how to become a creative problem solver and boost your innovation skills. Regardless of your profession or field, design thinking can improve the way you approach your daily challenges. Openlab offers courses for those who want to understand how to meet the needs of their target group, to become more innovative and expand their creative toolbox. – Everyone is a Student!

Challenge-driven innovation

We work with real life challenges in order to create sustainable innovations for the benefit of society. The societal challenges we take on come from the Stockholm area, but they are often shared with many other areas in the world. By allowing the needs and experiences of real people guiding the processes, the solutions created through Openlab can make real difference in peoples lives. The main areas of the challenges are sustainable urban development, future healthcare, education and the ageing population.

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Sustainable urban development

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Ageing population

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Sustainable urban development

Stockholm, as all growing urban regions in the world, need to ensure a sustainable development within the planetary boundaries, and where the wellbeing of its inhabitants is fulfilled. Sustainable urban development involves not only the physical planning of urban regions but the design and delivery of community services. The goal is to build sustainable, resilient, inclusive societies.

Ageing population

In an era of technological and scientific progress the healthcare of the future is facing new opportunities, and also new challenges. The healthcare of tomorrow will harvest the advancement of digital solutions while increasing the patient’s involvement in their care. The aim is personalised, efficient and safe care and prevention, strengthening public health within and beyond the health care system.


The advancement of medical technology in recent years has led to more of us leading longer lives. In demography there is the term Health life years, showing the need for us not only to survive to old age, but to live healthy and happy for as many of those years as possible. The challenge for a society with an ageing population is also to fulfil the need for sufficient care for senior citizens and efficient ways for society to cover related costs.


Education is key, knowledge is power, the children are the future. You have heard the old sayings, and they make a good point. At Openlab we have created our own saying – everyone is a student. Education and learning is what is provided by pre-schools, schools, universities and training centers, but is is also going on in front of a screen, in nature, in play and in human interactions. If education was a tree it would be rooted deep in scientific knowledge, with its leafs reaching towards new creative and smart solutions for teaching and learning, with the never ending possibility to climb the branch of your choice to to reach new fruits of insight an knowledge.

Our partners

Our founding partners came together for one common goal – to find new and innovative approaches to solving society’s challenges. Openlab was created in 2013 with the vision of making the Stockholm region a global center for innovation. Our partners – The City of Stockholm, Region Stockholm, KTH, Stockholm University, Södertörn University and Karolinska Institutet – are all represented in our steering committee and provide funding as well as topics and challenges for our team and our students to address.

Our facilities