How can you tempt people to be healthy and active? That is the question the Vitality Living Lab faces. For the coming four years they want to find answers and solutions, René Wijlens says. Wijlens is the driving force behind the project and part of the Cluster Sport & Technology. According to him, it is all about having ‘fun’ that will help people to exercise more.

“We notice that the group of people with an inactive lifestyle is getting bigger and bigger. Figures from the World Health Organization also indicate that. Being overweight in combination with an inactive unhealthy lifestyle leads to all sorts of illnesses that you can die from prematurely and as a result of which the costs of care increases enormously. It is really a global problem due to our changing lifestyle.” For Wijlens the solution to this problem lays in taking care of health which means that people themselves need to want to live healthily.

“When you look at diseases such as type 2 diabetes from a healthcare point of view, you quickly talk about health insurance, medication and therapy. The cause and therapy of type 2 diabetes lay in line with each other: the cause is an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle. And the therapy is a healthy active lifestyle. Why do not people have an active lifestyle then?”

“How can we organize the circumstances around the people in such a way that they want to work on that healthy active lifestyle”René Wijlens, Project Manager ‘Vitality Living Lab’

For Wijlens, sports is not the only answer to an active and healthy lifestyle. People have to be tempted especially to that lifestyle, and ‘fun’ is an important factor in this. “If it is ‘you have to do’ then it probably will not happen. How can we organize the circumstances around the people in such a way that they want to work on that healthy active lifestyle, not because they have to, but because they just like it. What can smart technology contribute to this?”

Within the Cluster Sport & Technology, companies, knowledge institutes, governments and SportsFieldLabs work together to create innovative solutions for sport and vitality, generate economic and social impact, with technology and open innovation. Completely according to the DNA of the Brainport region, Wijlens explains. Within this cluster, S & T facilitates what the other companies and participants need.

With the SportFieldLabs for different sports, such as swimming, hockey, football, gymnastic sports and adapted sports, innovations can be tested in the real environment. For example, the start of Ranomi Kromowidjojo was analyzed and improved in the InnoSportLab de Tongelreep. The swimmer won gold during the Olympic Games in 2012. Events such as the marathon also work according to this field lab formula and offer test environments. Like the smart sole of Ato Gear, during the marathon in 2008. Among others, the former mayor Rob van Gijzel tested the sole. The field labs focus not only on innovations that optimize performance but also on promoting the active lifestyle.

There is close cooperation with Fontys and the TU / e, province and municipality and the business community in the cluster. “It is a cluster of organizations spread all over the country, rooted here in the Brainport region of Eindhoven.” Vitality Living Lab is one of the projects in the cluster. It is a project that goes beyond the sport as a goal.

“Within the cluster, we are not only concerned to get the best out of an athlete coupled with medals and successes. We also want to get and keep people moving more. We have been working on this for a long time in all kinds of projects. With the Vitality Living Lab, we want to reinforce what we have been doing for a while.”

They will do this by collecting data, by investigating what drives and tempts people and to investigate the effects of innovations. Together with the end user, testing is done in the field labs. “And if it works, we make it a business case, a revenue model that provides jobs again. We will mainly do and in practice, we test what works and what does not work.”

For Wijlens this is not a separate project, but part of strengthening the cluster & ecosystem, it is a ‘boost of four years’ and after those four years there is a solid network in which all parties, sports, business, education, and government, quickly find each other to come up with solutions for an active lifestyle.

In addition to S & T, the project The Vitality Living Lab has partners: TU / e, Fontys, Holst / IMEC, Brainport Development, BOM, GBO, SSNB, Sport eXperience, S & T Business Club and 6 FieldLabs: InnoSportLab Sport and Beweging !, InnoSportLab De Tongelreep, FieldLab move in education, FieldLab adapted sports, PECE care FieldLab hockey and SportMax FieldLab cycling. The total investment for this project amounts to almost 4.9 million euros, half of which is financed by the European regional innovation program OP-Zuid. The other half is financed by the partners themselves.

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About the author

Author profile picture Corine Spaans is a writer. She is particularly interested in the stories of the people behind the innovations and has a passion for sport (innovation).