Birmingham City University helps internationalise innovative start-up with support of LILA project

The LILA (Living Labs) project aims to foster the internationalisation of innovative companies in the green and digital economy. It involves people in a process of co-designing to validate and adapt products and services to each regional market.

LILA is co-funded by the European Union’s Interreg IV-B programme led by Promotech, a Business Innovation Centre in Nancy (France), in partnership with Birmingham City University (UK), INI-Novation (Germany), Technoport (Luxembourg) and the European Business Network (Belgium).

LILA partners act as a central point of contact to support local and European start-ups by defining European markets to enter and identifying users to be involved in their product/service developments. Each LILA partner works closely with the start-up to organise workshops (Living Labs), attended by targeted users, where entrepreneurs present their product/service and engage with users to gather valuable feedback on how to customise to the local market.

In addition, LILA partners organise knowledge transfer sessions to enable entrepreneurs to improve their skills (e.g. business planning, communication) and technical knowledge.

As part of the LILA project, the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment at Birmingham City University has supported seven start-ups. This includes Green Teach Tech (Birmingham based) and their innovative product VegPi; an interactive, customisable device to help users grow their own vegetables and fruit by monitoring temperature and moisture levels. The device can be programmed to send alerts when conditions are not met for specific crops. The project has allowed Green Teach Tech to test their product with user groups in Luxembourg, take on board user feedback and develop links with their user communities via the LILA web platform.

“Different cultural attitudes will drive the usage of our product. We now have a greater understanding of some of these issues which will help us to market outside of the UK and we are also more acutely aware of the areas where we need to do more focused and tailored research to make our brand successful internationally.” – Ami Johnston, Green Teach Tech.

As part of the project, Birmingham City University has hosted European start-ups wishing to enter the UK market including AirBoxLab, a smart device which monitors indoor air quality developed by Alima, and EdStore, a platform which captures and validates student skills from their academic projects and provides a web portal for potential employers.

For further information contact UK project lead Associate Professor Rehan Bhana at

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