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Living Lab, UK Style

In November 2018, Summerside hosted six companies from the UK.  While here, they met with lawyers, accountants, City staff, and like-minded businesses and peers.  In addition to being from across the ocean, they had something else in common as well, namely their interest in expanding operations to North America, using Summerside as their launching point. This process is not new to us. In fact, it even has a name: “Living Lab”

Living Lab is pretty simple in theory but fairly complicated in practice. The basic idea is that City infrastructure is opened up to businesses, both local and foreign, that wish to test and validate their ideas and products. The best cases tend to be those that identify a gap or a priority area that can be found in Summerside. That way, there is an obvious benefit for both sides.

Assistance can take the form of physical space, access to buildings, access to data, access to special events, staff expertise, in-kind help, navigating the marketplace, and accessing funds. In reality, each case is unique. The benefits of Living Lab are intended to go far beyond a pilot project or companies gaining a foothold. It’s about forming a lasting relationship that sees the company establish a permanent presence in the form of its headquarters, a satellite office, a research facility, a training area, or similar.

Of the six UK companies that came to visit, two of them are executing pilot projects with us right now.

Connective Touch
This is a biometrics company led by Devi Sohanta, the Founder and CEO. Their product is a proprietary door handle that uses thumb or fingerprints to allow access. These handles allow for a key-free environment. Keys, access cards, fobs, or any other physical inventory, are no longer needed.  With the appropriate software, prints are collected at a PC terminal and an administrator then inputs which prints can open which doors. The system is also capable of logging who entered which room and when. These features are quite useful for high-security environments.

Connective Touch’s origin is with servicing the physically and mentally disabled. People with these ailments can have trouble remembering their keys as well as using them; using prints makes a lot more sense. Despite its great utility for those with disabilities, the product is a good fit for nearly anyone. Places such as utilities, hospitals, government buildings, or even personal properties can benefit from one of these door handles. Access is controlled in a simple and clear way and nobody can ever forget their “key”.

To do their installations, Connective Touch visited us from June 5-8. Summerside’s partners in the pilot project are:

— Community Connections
— Summerside Police Services
— Summerside Electric

Connective Touch aims to demonstrate the utility of their product in Canadian weather as well as in different contexts. Police stations, for example, have some of the most strict security protocols around while Community Connections has a significant number of members that suffer from various medical conditions.

Another great feature about Connective Touch is that there is a large academic component to their company. They constantly research ways to improve their product accuracy and additional biometrics, such as iris scanning and blood flow detection.
Hello Lamp Post
This is an IT company whose product is a social engagement platform. It is headed up by Tiernan Mines, the CEO. Hello Lamp Post brings cities to life by allowing citizens and visitors to interact with certain objects around the city – these are called “Hero Objects”. By working with project partners, Hello Lamp Post identifies these Heroes and affixes them with signage. The signage invites people to have a text conversation using their mobile phones.

The City is coming to life and wants to chat with its citizens!
“Hello Summerside” is a 6-month pilot project which will be launching June 28, 2019 through British company Hello Lamp Post. 30 Objects across the City, including a lighthouse, a flagpole, lamp posts, benches and trash cans will be waking up, inviting citizens to strike up playful conversations in the street!

Participants will be encouraged to explore the local environment in a new and experiential way, and invited to share their thoughts, opinions and stories about what Summerside means to them. By taking part, you’ll contribute to the decision-making processes of government, cultural institutions and local businesses.

Conversations will take the form of interactive questions. Find out what each Object has to say!
What is your favourite green space in Summerside?
What brings you downtown?
What would you do if you were Mayor of the City?
How to play:
All you need to chat with the Objects is a basic mobile phone! It’s free to play (standard text messaging rates apply) and suitable for all ages. Just look out for the yellow signs across the City, which can be found in places such as Downtown, Spinnakers’ Landing, Credit Union Place, Queen Elizabeth Park and along the Boardwalk. You can see a full map of the Objects and their locations at
You can wake up any coded piece of street furniture with the format
‘Hello + Object + #CODE’
For example: ‘Hello Lamp Post #039’
All conversations will take place through the dedicated project number: 902-906-9006
What’s in it for me?
  • — A new and interactive way of engaging with the City
  • — Be creative and share your opinions and stories
    with local individuals and businesses
  • — Keep informed on decisions about the City and be able
    to provide feedback and opinions
Hello Lamp Post came to visit us again from April 8-13 in order to meet with partners and brainstorm ideas. On June 28, the pilot project will launch and last for 6 months. The partners in this project are:

— City of Summerside Dept. of Finance
— City of Summerside Dept. of Community Services
— Culture Summerside
— Explore Summerside
— Downtown Summerside
— Harbourfront Theatre
— Spinnakers’ Landing
— Inspire Learning Centre
— College of Piping
— Holman’s Ice Cream Parlour
— South Central Kitchen & Provisions
— Samuel’s Coffee House
In this list of partners, there is much variety, including municipal government, non-profit organizations, and private businesses. Hello Lamp Post intends to demonstrate the effectiveness of their service to many different customers, including Tourism agencies, other municipalities, and federal organizations such as Parks Canada.  Their journey into North America begins with us.

If interested in learning more about investment opportunities, economic development support or opportunities for growth, please call our Economic Development Professionals.
We would love to chat.

Alternatively, you can email us at
It could be 
the most profitable email you have ever sent.

Michael Thususka
Director of Economic Development City of Summerside
275 Fitzroy Street, Summerside PE C1N 1H9
M: 902.432.0103, E:

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