HELSUS Co-Creation Lab



The HELSUS institute’s purpose is to bring researchers together, to create new transdisciplinary partnerships and to conduct high-quality research for societal impact. As a consequence we are now launching HELSUS Co-creation Lab; a cooperative, scheduled and facilitated process for students doing their Master's thesis. Through the lab we build connections between actors working with sustainability challenges and master students who seek solutions to them.



The HELSUS Co-creation Lab does not replace traditional thesis seminars but adds to them by introducing a co-creative approach to the research process. The lab offers master's students' the opportunity to find topics for their thesis, help with their research work, a chance to develop transdisciplinary skills and to get in touch with actual sustainability challenges. Students attending the lab will also have wide support from the lab personnel, their student peers, the partner as well as their thesis supervisor.

Practitioners in the field are, on the other hand, given the opportunity to get new insights, ideas and possible solutions to their sustainability challenges. The lab also gives opportunities for social networking, not only with students but also with researchers and with other societal actors/corporations. The HELSUS Co-creation Lab therefore functions as a community where a wide range of knowledge and experience can be used to explore novel ideas and possible solutions regarding common interests.

The Co-creation Lab will come together six times, each time starting with a new phase of the thesis process. The lab personnel facilitates and arranges each session.

Lab 1 Team-building: Students, supervisors, lab personnel and partners meet. Everyone gets familiar with the lab topics and through a mapping exercise each team explore mutual interests and possibilities regarding their topic

Lab 2 Defining: All day session where the research question, societal context and methods are starting to take form.

Lab 3 Positioning: Using a joint back casting method, the theses are positioned and contextualized.

Lab 4 Shaping: Time for presenting the research questions and the plans for data collection to both partners and supervisors. Comments on methods and methodology.

Individual research work from mid-November until the end of February

Lab 5 Interpreting: First insights from the data. Time for analyzing, interpreting, reflecting and sharing experiences.

Lab 6 Sharing: Event where everyone involved in the lab are invited to hear about the results of the lab.


The theme for the 2019-2020 HELSUS Co-creation Lab is circular economy. Each partner presents a topic connected to this theme:

  • Raising the recycling rate and value of forest-based materials and developing markets for recycled materials
  • Recycling of Electronic Waste and Equipment on a global level
  • Circular economy processes integrated to biogas plants
  • Sustainable recycling of nutrients

Around each of the topics, we have teams consisting of three students, partner representatives and a team facilitator. Each student will approach the given topic from his or her own viewpoint. The topics are not too narrow, so there will be room for adjustment according to discipline and interests when forming the theoretical framework and the research questions for each thesis produced in the lab.

Examples of viewpoints: regulation, geopolitics, environmental impact, societal or economic scenarios, learning, consumer viewpoints, biodiversity, consumer behavior, acceptance, economic analysis, bio-geo-chemical cycles, technological solutions, value-chain analysis, social responsibility.