Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab

Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab

The Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab is an initiative to promote the Barcelona Science Plan promoted by Barcelona City Council and the "la Caixa" Foundation in collaboration with the Living Lab for Health at IrsiCaixa and ISGlobal. With a wide range of initiatives to promote open R&I in health, the initiative draws on the experiences of the Living Lab for Health at IrsiCaixa and ISGlobal. The intention is to act as a meeting point of different social actors where the public’s needs can be addressed. The platform welcomes public participation initiatives in co-designing and implementing research and innovation agendas.

The general goal is to provide an intermediation structure in which experts in different scientific disciplines, working with other actors (including the public), cooperate in optimizing R&D&i processes and interventions and in public policy development, so as to achieve a transformative change that makes the system more open and inclusive and improves its social impact.

Within the framework of this initiative, the IrsiCaixa Living Lab for Health, together with ISGlobal, is promoting a series of challenges. In the case of IrsiCaixa, the challenges —Healthy and Sustainable Eating and Affective-Sexual Health— aim to provide continuity to the efforts carried out in the framework of the European projects FIT4FOOD 2030 and InSPIRES.


Our challenges

Fit4FoodBcn – Towards a more systemic model for promoting Healthy and Sustainable Eating (HSE) in the neighbourhood of La Verneda i La Pau in Barcelona

The current food system is facing multiple challenges that represent an area of growing attention and concern, such as the increase in overweight and obesity at a time of growing saturation of the health system, environmental degradation and climate change, among others. For these reasons, the Living Lab for Health at IrsiCaixa, within the framework of the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab, proposes to promote a change in the model for promoting healthy and sustainable eating to make it more effective with a more systemic and collaborative approach. Specifically, the project acts in the Barcelona neighbourhood of La Verneda i La Pau, with the dynamisation of a Community of Practice with system thinking methodologies, open science and co-creation during different phases: strategic thinking phase and operational phase. These include the co-definition of a shared strategic plan and collaboration in the ideation, prototyping and implementation of collaborative, systemic and impactful solutions. A wide range of social actors from different areas of the system are involved, such as health professionals, research staff, experts in education and communication, professionals from the agri-food chain and representatives of civil society and public administration, both from the Verneda i la Pau neighbourhood and from the rest of the city of Barcelona and Catalonia as a whole. So far, more than 136 participants from 64 organisations have taken part.


Co-ResponS(H)ibility – Towards a more systemic promotion model of Affective-Sexual Health (ASH) in Barcelona

Despite the efforts that are being made to guarantee the fulfilment of Sexual and Reproductive Rights, to this day they are still not being fulfilled and, therefore, a pleasurable and safe sexuality, free of discrimination, coercion, sexual and gender-based violence and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), among others, is still not guaranteed. It is therefore a complex and persistent challenge. This fact has led the Living Lab for Health at IrsiCaixa, within the framework of the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab, to promote the transition of the affective and sexual health promotion model to make it more effective, with a systemic and collaborative approach. The project, called Co-ResponS(H)ibility, aims to dynamise a Community of Practice or multi-stakeholder network in Barcelona with different methodologies and innovative approaches based on system thinking, open science and co-creation during a strategic thinking phase and an operational phase. During this process, a collaborative strategic and action plan is co-defined and collaborative, systemic and impactful solutions that respond to social needs are ideated, prototyped and implemented. So far, 47 social actors from more than 30 organisations from different areas of the system such as health professionals, research staff, experts in education and communication, representatives of civil society, youth organisations, different departments of the administration, etc. have participated.


Long Covid – For a more systemic healthcare and research model for Long Covid at the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital

Long Covid is a disease that, according to the World Health Organisation, affects 10% of people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2. In June 202, the Long Covid Unit was set up at the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital, with the support of the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation and IrsiCaixa. The Unit works to develop knowledge about the disease, develop protocols to fight Long Covid and offer a personalised response to those affected. In 2021, the Living Lab for Health at IrsiCaixa, within the framework of the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab, initiated a project to support the Unit in the design of a more comprehensive, collaborative and decentralised care and research model for this disease. The end result will be a Collective Action Plan with Innovation Programmes to promote changes in the current model. The process involves different social actors, such as health professionals, researchers and patients. So far, 3 strategic workshops have been held with the collaboration of 57 participants.


ISGlobal challenges

Access to mental health care for the immigrant population

Mental health refers to the state of well-being in which a person is able to realise their capabilities and can cope with everyday challenges using available resources. Mental health is determined by multiple personal, social and economic factors. In host societies, the mental health of migrants depends on whether the social and institutional environment creates a framework of conditions that make it viable, providing a social and material space that promotes well-being and facilitates access to appropriate care services. The migrant population may be exposed to risk factors linked to the migration process itself and to current living conditions, as well as being more exposed to barriers to access and use of care.

This fact has led the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab to promote a space for co-creation on mental health and migration. The aim is to generate a collaborative space with an intercultural perspective in which different actors, through innovative methodologies and co-creation, devise solutions to improve access and use of mental health care for the immigrant population.

More specifically, the project has set out to:

  • Understand the mental health needs of the migrant population (taking into account gender and the diversity of groups and situations).
  • Analyse the barriers and facilitators of access to mental health care in the public network.
  • Propose culturally competent strategies to facilitate access and use of mental health care services.
  • Improve the articulation of existing resources.


Access to full care for people at risk of Chagas disease

For a decade and a half, patients who left their country in search of better living conditions have been arriving at the International Health Service of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona (SSI-HCB), the Drassanes International Health Unit (Vall d'Hebron-PROSICS) and other medical services in the city. Most of them arrive motivated by family or community contact. Citizen agency has proven to be fundamental for the transformation of a stigmatised and silenced disease that has a transnational dimension.

For this reason, the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab has set up a community and professional network to promote transformation. Through co-creation between different community actors, and with the involvement of the main specialised services, this challenge faces the destigmatisation of the disease, the decentralisation of detection and care and a transnational approach to the non-etiological treatment of the disease.

To date, 6 co-creation workshops have been carried out with the participation of 50 people with different profiles, which have resulted in the development of audiovisual materials that seek a rapid and effective impact on the population at risk of suffering from the disease. This network continues to work on the design of a strategy to transform access to and care for Chagas disease in the city of Barcelona and transnationally.


Safe and healthy school environments

The current urban model prioritises, in most cities, mobility in private motorised vehicles, reducing the possibility of active travel on foot or by bicycle, especially for children. This use of urban space has a direct impact on air quality (pollution levels, temperature, noise) and levels of physical activity, and affects people's health and well-being. More than half of the daily pollutants that children breathe come from traffic on the way to school and around the school environment itself.

Because of their characteristics and distribution throughout the city, schools and their surroundings are public spaces that offer a good opportunity for urban transformation to improve the physical and mental health and well-being of children and the community, promote environmental justice and reduce inequalities. But this transformation cannot come only through the transformation of urban elements. Improving health in school environments must be thought out and transformed collectively by the school, families, neighbours, neighbourhood organisations and the public administration.

For this reason, the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab articulates one of its challenges around the development of school environments as areas for the protection of health, well-being and safety. With the aim of:

  • Reaching schools that do not participate in school environment transformation programmes.
  • Promote safe and healthy school pathways. Encourage the development of public space that favours safe active transport on the school route.
  • Favour the development of public space for the use of children, their families and the community, with more available space and green infrastructure and ensure safe use.
  • Improve the quality of school buildings, including the playground as a multifunctional pedagogical space that favours the physical and cognitive development of children, and the promotion and protection of health and social cohesion of children, families and the neighbourhood community.
  • Promote the use of the school environment, and the playground in particular, as a safe and healthy public space for the community outside school hours.


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Irsi Caixa

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'La Caixa' Foundation Generalitat de Catalunya - Departament de Salut


HR Excellence in Research

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