Knowledge exchange and innovation co-creation in living labs projects in South Africa
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The purpose of this paper is to explore how the co-learning methodology, inherent in the Living Labs approach, has been deployed to stimulate knowledge exchange and absorption in marginalised rural communities in South Africa and empower them to participate in the innovation process. Having one of the world's highest rates of income and wealth inequality, South African has sought to harness the power of knowledge and rural innovation as a means to foster its structural transformation. The knowledge asymmetry between specialised knowledge producers and the impoverished target users has however hindered the necessary knowledge exchange for the diffusion of technological solutions in the marginalised rural and peri-urban communities. In order to overcome the constraints of this knowledge asymmetry, the government supported user capacity building with the Living Labs approach for tackling rural community challenges with innovative solutions. This paper uses three examples of successful innovation co-creation to illustrate how transformative change can be achieved through co-learning between living labs researchers and user communities. The corresponding experiences of knowledge-co-creation in South African Living Labs highlight the role of government support for capacity building in the co-learning approach targeted to inclusive transformation of the livelihoods of marginalised communities.