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LAB8 combines creativity, service providers, and learning by developing

LAB8 is a service experience laboratory based at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. Through its agile (and quite often tongue-in-cheek) approach, LAB8 solves pressing industry problems by leveraging its expertise in service design, gamification, and implementing mixed reality solutions.


Eeva Puhakainen

viestinnän lehtori, TKI-viestintävastaava
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Aarni Tuomi

lehtori, majoitus- ja ravitsemisliiketoiminta
lecturer, hospitality business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu


Visiting Research Fellow
University of Surrey

Published : 13.10.2020

Quick iteration and prototyping ensure that industry challenges, whether present or future, get addressed effectively. Harnessing bright service design students across Haaga-Helia’s Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes, the academic year 2019-2020 saw circa 50 live projects with over 200 industry partners! LAB8 consists of eight dimensions, namely: Service Design, Trends, PLAY, The Box, Events, Fast Prototyping, Tool Factory, and Silab.

Close collaboration with the industry – tackling wicked problems with service design

Everything LAB8 does is industry-driven and service design-led. LAB8’s service designers develop customer-centric service experiences by understanding and improving customer journeys. The lab’s service design expertise is world-renowned: the field’s leading international professional body, the Service Design Network (SDN) has just accredited the director of LAB8, Teemu Moilanen, as an “SDN Accredited Service Design Master”, of which there are only 26 in the whole world. LAB8’s goal is to be Finland’s first and leading service design trainer, whose facilitators are all SDN accredited to ensure the highest of standards.

Circa one hundred partnering organisations have already taken part in LAB8-facilitated development projects. One great example is Helsinki-based Musiikkitalo (Helsinki Music Centre), a concert venue and a meeting place in the heart of the city. Musiikkitalo brings together a myriad of independent businesses, all of whom take part in creating value for visitors. However, in the visitor’s mind, all service providers merge into one seamless service experience. Through leveraging its expertise in service design, LAB8 helped Musiikkitalo to develop more coherent, seamless customer journeys.

Service design is also becoming a mainstay for SOK Mara which oversees service development efforts across all of S-Groups 750 restaurants and 65 hotels. With decades of experience, SOK Mara’s service developers and heads of R&D are among the most experienced service developers in Finland. However, despite years of experience, SOK Mara’s developers are not fully-fledged service designers. Through partnering with LAB8, SOK Mara was able to add to its service development tool kit, and as a result, it’s aiming to make service design the organisation’s primary operational model. Read more here.

The Income and Employment Effect of Trade Fairs Research project presents one more example. Partnering with Finland’s six largest trade expo providers, the project led to tangible benefits and new insight for the entire events sector. Sharing a similarly strong connection with the industry, The BLUE – Digital service concepts for aquatic nature-based tourism project was commissioned by the Finnish Government and saw over a hundred partnering technology and travel companies co-create mixed reality concepts of the future.

Besides its usual activities, LAB8 has also helped companies weather the corona crisis. The targeted “Häiriötilanne” (Malfunction) consulting project took place early 2020 and saw travel companies devastated by the pandemic receive free coaching services from LAB8’s experts.

Trendcasting – LAB8 sheds light on future trends and helps companies address emerging challenges

Besides working in tandem with the industry, LAB8 produces regular reports on emerging trends. Both open-access trend reports as well as tailor-made commissioned reports are available. In addition, LAB8 offers internal trend workshops for different units of Haaga-Helia. So far most commissioned trend reports have been for Finnish hotel and restaurant companies, but LAB8 is open for business for anyone interested in better understanding the future. 2020 will also see the global collaboration with Canadian TrendHunter Ltd to continue, and through the collaboration LAB8 will be equipped with a truly global trend database which can be leveraged to further benefit stakeholders in Finland.

LAB8 offers open-access tools to develop business and to identify and address emerging challenges. The Tool Factory offers a large collection of service development tools and methods, and is freely available on LAB8’s website.

Global networks – LAB8 shapes the international service industry

LAB8 is a globally-minded R&D actor and industry shaper. For example, the “Tehoverkko” (Power Network) project seeks to establish a systematic framework for building international R&D partnerships. The aim is to build an R&D ecosystem with the top actors in the European R&D space by identifying research organisations that have excelled in previous Horizon Europe (prev. Horizon 2020) funding calls and whose research profile resonates well with Haaga-Helia’s core competence areas. Drawing to a close in October 2020, the “Tehoverkko” project has already resulted in promising project ideas and draft proposals with, for example, Italy-based Politecnico di Milano as well as UK-based University of Surrey. Besides joint grant proposals, the project will also pilot a novel Visiting Scholar concept, whereby top researchers in partnering universities are offered a unique opportunity to conduct projects in Finland as hosted by Haaga-Helia.

In addition to strengthening Haaga-Helia’s R&D partner network and research profile, LAB8 paves the way for a more equitable, better functioning international service industry. Working under the LAB8 umbrella, The Box develops and implements mixed reality solutions for high-profile events. In 2020 The Box, as well as Events by Haaga-Helia, have been heavily invested in organising the Tokyo Olympics, the Dubai World Expo, as well as the world’s leading travel expo, ITB. Based at Haaga-Helia’s Porvoo campus, Events by Haaga-Helia works in close collaboration with events management students and expo organisers to co-create world-leading experiences.

Through its eight dimensions, the Service Experience Laboratory LAB8 partners with hundreds of stakeholders annually: businesses, students, as well as other collaborating organisations, e.g. universities, in a myriad of sectors. Even though LAB8’s primary focus area and the majority of existing partners are within the hospitality and tourism sector/industry etc, tackling problems across the entire experience economy is LAB8’s strongest suit.