Lieven Desomviele is a Labmaster at 3ID LABS at Artevelde University of Applied Sciences.

3ID LABS is a multidisciplinary Living Lab at Artevelde University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), Ghent, fostering sustainable and social entrepreneurship.

The 3ID LABS approach to learning is rooted in Kolb’s experiential learning framework, the lab studio model (Heikkinen K.-P. , 2018; Heikkinen, Sëppänen, & Isokangas, 2016) and entrepreneurial learning model (Rae, 2005) and emphasises hands-on education. The programme focuses on addressing complex societal issues using Human Centred Design, where super-diverse teams from all over the world, different professions and ages create solutions, whilst individuals within these teams, learn how to become self-directive professionals. 3ID LABS focus on 3 learning lines: human centric problem solving, learning how to work in super diverse teams with a high impact and how to become self-directive professionals, taking a lifelong learning approach. With their transdisciplinary and comprehensive approach, 3ID LABS fosters professional competency development, practical applicability, and user and stakeholder engagement, leading to benefits for individuals, communities, and society. The 3ID LABS programme is built into the formal curriculum of the university and offers participants 30 ECTS credits. The lab has a strong support system consisting of lab coaches who act as learning facilitators, experts in intercultural communication.

At the close of the programme students demonstrate their proficiency through the EntreComp portfolio exam, where they present evidence of their skills and knowledge. Students also retain ownership over their final concepts, and own the IP for anything created.

In addition to its diversity and global reach, the programme focusses on creating tangible impacts for society, with a particular local focus on the city of Ghent; all the cases that students work with are real life challenges. For instance, students have created a repair café in collaboration with elderly people who are experiencing loneliness, and collaborated with the city of Ghent to organise a winter food festival, promoting the consumption of plant-based and locally sourced food. The establishment of a creative hub to support socially disadvantaged youth in one of Ghent’s neighbourhoods.

Partnerships are key to the success of 3ID LABS. Close ties with the city of Ghent, the university’s research department, and various public and private organisations enrich the initiatives. Furthermore, 3ID LABS partner with the Flemish labour association VDAB, offering our program as a standard option for highly trained newcomers in Belgium, facilitating professional networking opportunities.

The inspiration to launch this initiative stemmed from educators at AUAS’s frustration at seeing students graduate without feeling confident to enter the workforce. This frustration was further fuelled by feedback from companies indicating that students need to be more proactive and better trained in interpersonal skills. Additionally, the desire of educators to see the top 10 skills needed in the workplace by 2030, as outlined by the World Economic Forum, reflected in their teaching practices.


Inspiring others

3ID LABS serves as a best practice for education innovation within their institution. They provide train-the-trainer courses to empower other educators at the university to integrate entrepreneurial and innovative approaches into their teaching practices. Furthermore, 3ID LABS’ expertise in learning within a living lab setting has been documented in the book “Learning in a Living Lab: Learning What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do” by Mirthe van den Hee, Lieven Desomviele, Zac Woolfitt, and Isabelle Vandevyvere.


Read more about the initiative here.

To hear from the other Impactful Educator Awardees and their initiatives, visit our e-zine special issue.

Edited by Tasha Day (UIIN)