Over the last few years, public and social innovation labs have emerged around the world to provide effective approaches for tackling social challenges. While there are many different varieties of labs, they typically adopt experimental approaches to address particular social and public challenges. They also typically emphasise engaging with diverse stakeholders to bring about systemic change.
- What are they useful for and how do they work?
- What are the methods and approaches they use?
- How has the pandemic effected lab practices globally?
From the beginning of the rise of social labs, SIX has supported and followed the work of social innovation and public sector labs around the world. We brought together like-minded lab practitioners to share learnings and experiences. In 2010, we hosted the first global conversation on labs with via TelePresence. We then contributed in the first lab gathering in Europe, hosted by Kennislad.
In 2014, the labs movement gained momentum globally. There were many different types of labs, applying experimental methods to public and social problems. They were based in universities, governments, NGOs, and tech companies; some were physical, others virtual or hybrid; some were issue based, others method based. Geoff Mulgan started to analyse what was happening in this paper, and this report also attempted to map the movement from a North American perspective. (Both reports available below).
A few years later in 2017, we worked with ESADE Institute of Social Innovation to continue to map the progress of the movement.
In 2019, the topic of labs became popular again this time, with a growing movement in Asia. We worked closely with our collaborators MaD Institute, who has been running Social Labs in Hong Kong, to host the first Asia lab gathering. We are working with MaD at the moment to look at how labs have changed their practice since the pandemic. How can this process of experimentation help cities and communities recover?
Labs for System Change
The Labs for System Change report is our humble attempt to capture the overwhelming richness of the conversations that took place both within the conference and online via Twitter (we captured over 2,000 tweets over the few days of the event). We hope that the report will also surface some of the most pertinent questions and challenges ... Labs for System Change
Social Labs: enabling citizens to co-create and co-design innovations
As cities grow in size and significance, they can become sites of complex social problems – but also hubs for exploring possible solutions. While every city faces distinct problems, they all share a need for innovative approaches to tackle today’s challenges. This essay is one in a series on future trends for innovative cities, written by the leading thinkers of the Mayor of Seoul’s ... Social Labs: enabling citizens to co-create and co-design innovations
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From the beginning of the rise of social labs, SIX has supported and followed the work of social innovation and public sector labs around the world.