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System demonstrators enable system-level transition

When facing major societal changes, new innovation tools are required. System demonstrators constitute such a tool, and they are used to understand what it takes to bring about a transition – by considering all the aspects required to solve a problem at the system level. There are myriad examples within social care, healthcare, and welfare of how system demonstrators can provide an overview of complex challenges.

When working with large, complex challenges in society, radical changes are often needed in both social and technical systems, at several levels of society – and at the same time. It is therefore seldom possible to solve a problem through a single change made by a single operator – many different screws, dimensions, and perspectives need to be turned to achieve long-lasting change.
To test new system solutions in a real-world environment, a system demonstrator can be used, along with a variety of tests and experiments to find out how a solution affects the entire system.

“To explain it in brief, I would say it’s about seeing all the components that need to be handled a 360-degree perspective,” says Joakim Börjesson, Project Manager at RISE.

“To bring about a transformation, different things must be in place,” says Carina Carlman, Research and Business Developer at RISE. “Even if the technology exists, for example, it may not be possible to implement it unless other things are in place, such as culture, laws, regulations, remuneration models, and so on.

"A well-designed living environment that supports health and sustainable lifestyles requires interdisciplinary innovation. In a system demonstrator, we can develop solutions and disseminate knowledge on a scientific basis, regardless of whether it relates to senior housing or a district.”

Practical use in care services

The challenges of future home care are a clear example of how no single component can solve a problem.

“Elderly individuals who want to live in their home safely and independently for as long as possible can utilise technology or other types of digital services for increased assurance and support, for example,” says Camilla Evensson, Innovation Leader at RISE. “But technology alone doesn’t solve the problem; to have an impact on the larger whole, other things linked to the living environment also need to be highlighted as important components. Like how the housing, the local environment and the building could actively promote my health, the connection to care staff and relatives, as well as the social context and services that could be available there. It shows the importance of coming together from different disciplines with different perspectives.”

Another recent example of new innovation that both provides opportunities and poses challenges is the collection and use of health data, which raises many questions about, among other things, legislation and accessibility.

“It’s actually something fairly simple that becomes a big issue when it needs to work according to all these dimensions: laws, regulations, infrastructure, business models, technology, products, processes, culture, and values,” explains Börjesson. “Health data is a good example for understanding how difficult this is to achieve. We have not even fully succeeded in gaining interoperability between healthcare and social care, between regions and municipalities, and here comes another advanced dimension in the form of health data.”

A demonstrator should have an interdisciplinary perspective with respect for all competencies

Real-world environments are crucial

When it comes to innovations in the social care, healthcare, and welfare sectors, tests cannot be performed in a laboratory – testing must be carried out in a real-world environment where care is provided.

“Unlike a product that is first manufactured and then used, healthcare and social care are consumed and produced at the same time,” says Evensson. “So, you need to be in a real-world environment to test and see what works, as well as demonstrate and highlight the gaps that exist, and which screws need to be tightened to close them. The demonstrator should be as close to implementation and the market as possible. And it’s therefore important to be as close to reality as possible.”

If it is not possible to test in a real-world environment, technology that utilises digital twins can be a solution.

“A physical environment is optimal, but it’s not always possible to test in hospital wards, for example,” explains Börjesson. “In such a case, you can create a digital twin that is as similar as possible.”

Mindset a factor in success

To succeed with a system demonstrator, an open mindset and an inclusive work process are required.

“When you test in a real-world environment, things usually crop up along the way that you could not foresee,” says Evensson. “The things that happen are not always particularly convenient, but you must be able to tackle them. This necessitates having an open mindset. A demonstrator should have an interdisciplinary perspective with respect for all competencies.”

Benefits for many sectors

Both trade and industry and the public sector can benefit greatly from system demonstrators. For trade and industry, it is important to have access to a real-world environment in regions and municipalities to test solutions and opportunities together with other relevant operators.

“In addition, it provides a great deal of legitimacy, credibility and reference opportunities,” says Evensson. “We have learned that this it is extremely important and valuable.”

"I see a huge benefit for public sector organisations,” says Börjesson. “They must constantly look at the risks involved with implementing different things; if you have a system demonstrator and RISE takes a role to certify different types of solutions, you minimise the risk for the public in purchasing this type of service.

“RISE is an enabler that is positioned midway between the public and the private sectors. I find it hard to see who else could take on this role.”

Camilla Evensson

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Camilla Evensson


+46 10 516 51 15

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Carina Carlman

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Carina Carlman

Forsknings- och affärsutvecklingschef

+46 10 516 55 75

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