IRI UL’s people- and planet-centred development approach is based on interdisciplinary collaboration between engineers and social scientists, involving the organization and execution of ethnographic, qualitative research, and co-design workshops. IRI UL researchers, including anthropologists and sociologists, study human habits, routines, needs, expectations, and established practices of individuals and social groups. The research findings are transformed into actionable development guidelines. 

The central tenet of the approach lies in involving people (target groups, relevant organizations, etc.) in all stages of the development process. Research participants are transformed into partners in the research process, ensuring that the emerging solutions effectively address the identified needs as efficiently as possible.  

Identification and definition of the project 

  • Definition of challenges and research questions 
  • Identification of target groups, end-users, and key stakeholders 
  • Development of a research plan 
  • Formulation of methodological approach and transfer of methodology to partners (training) 

Research and analysis of results 

  • Conducting research and analysis of social practices, needs, and expectations 
  • Use of qualitative research methods: participant observation, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, visual ethnography 

Co-design and interpretation 

  • Designing, organising, implementing, and analysing structured workshops (co-design workshops, ethnographic workshops, prototyping) 
  • Preparation of recommendations for design or development (texts, visual presentations) 


  • Testing prototypes or drafts of solutions with target groups using various methods, e.g., scenarios and focus groups 
  • Preparation of improvement recommendations