Recently the Director of our masters programme, Tuukka Toivonen (@Tuukka_T) had an article about his research published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The work examines the optimism, but also the ambiguity surrounding innovation labs and work hubs.

There is a widespread belief that work hubs, and the collaborative work they typify fosters innovation, but there is very little scrutiny about whether or not this is actually true.The work takes a closer look at what characterises an innovation lab in order to explore this.

The full  Stanford Social Innovation Review article, written by Tuukka and his collaborators can be found HERE.

Here is an extract of the article:

Innovation labs, with their aspirations to foster systemic change, have become a mainstay of the social innovation scene. Used by city administrations, NGOs, think tanks, and multinational corporations, labs are becoming an almost default framework for collaborative innovation. They have resonance in and across myriad fields: London’s pioneering Finance Innovation Lab, for example, aims to create a system of finance that benefits “people and planet”; the American eLab is searching for the future of the electricity sector; and the Danish MindLab helps the government co-create better social services and solutions. Hundreds of other, similar initiatives around the world are taking on a range of grand challenges (or, if you prefer, wicked problems) and driving collective social impact.

Yet for all their seeming popularity, labs face a basic problem that closely parallels the predicament of hub organizations: There is little clarity on their core features, and few shared definitions exist that would make sense amid their diverse themes and settings. Most advocates would probably agree that a typical innovation lab spans organizational, sectoral, and geographical boundaries, and strives to engage a wide range of stakeholders in problem-solving activities. But a more-nuanced and analytical approach is badly needed to help guide future lab leaders and participants, as well as to inspire funder trust in labs’ likely impacts.


Further discussion of the work can be found in a recent opinion piece in Forbes, entitled How Innovation Labs Can Keep You Ahead Of The Curve.



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