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The spotlight in this study is on the phenomenon of living labs and how this open innovation concept is being interpreted and implemented in the higher education sector to address the “grand societal challenges”. Solving societal challenges demands new forms of social organisation via creation of collective action and co-ordination to provide resilience. The study aims to investigate how this new form of organising plays out in higher education, be it via adoption of more responsible ways of operating, researching, or innovating that enable society to respond to those challenges. The study attempts to contribute to the understanding of organisational change in higher education institutions in the face of grand challenges, with implications for university management.