Frequently asked questions

When does a challenge become a lab?

With the help of our colleagues and partners in developing and emerging countries, we constantly work to identify specific developmental problems that represent business opportunities. These problems are then published as potential challenges on our platform. By submitting your vote, you can express your interest in solving one of these challenges. Once a challenge attracts enough business interest we will schedule a lab and invite applications to participate.

Who can take part in the lab of tomorrow?

The lab of tomorrow is looking for ambitious entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and experts with strong entrepreneurial spirits, open minds and interdisciplinary expertise. Whether you are from a multinational company, a social business, a young start-up or a non-profit organisation, what matters is that you are open to innovation and eager to capture new markets that can make a positive difference in developing countries.

How can I take part in the lab of tomorrow?

Once a challenge is selected and its lab scheduled, we open the application process. To participate in the initial innovation workshop, you need to apply on the according challenge site. We will thoroughly evaluate the applications, select the most suitable candidates and send the successful applicants a binding registration form.

Is my application to participate in a lab binding?

No. With your application, you simply express your interest in participating in a specific lab. If your application is confirmed, we will send you a binding registration form. Once you have submitted this second form to us, your registration will be binding. If you have to cancel your participation at short notice, we kindly ask you to nominate a substitute from within your company who will be able to participate fully in the three-day workshop.

I cannot be present at all three workshop days. Can I still participate in the lab of tomorrow?

The concept of the workshop requires that all participants be present throughout all three days. An absence for even a couple of hours would interfere with the process and negatively affect your working group. It is therefore essential for attendees to participate in all sessions on all three days.

What criteria are used to select participants?

To select the most suitable participants for an upcoming lab, we review the applications received to see whether the candidates:
- have the expertise required to solve the challenge
- are willing to commit to the co-creation process
- have an industry focus
- demonstrate a convincing business interest that will ensure sustainable project implementation

How much does it cost?

Each participant pays a fee of EUR 250. However, exemptions may be applied in certain cases (e.g. if you work for a non-profit organisation or NGO).

What is included in the participation fee?

- Access to detailed background research about the development challenge
- A moderated three-day design-thinking workshop with professional coaches and local experts from the target country of the challenge
- Access to an innovation space and the provision of meals and refreshments during the workshop

How can I prepare for the lab of tomorrow?

Prior to the innovation workshop, we undertake user-centred research, including on-site interviews, to ensure we fully understand your future customers’ problem and its underlying causes. The information is shared on our online platform where you can access and discuss the material and enrich it with your own ideas. By reviewing and exchanging information in this way, you can dive deeper into the topic and prepare yourself for the workshop.

How are the teams composed?

Each team comprises approximately six participants and is guided by a professional design-thinking coach. When putting together the teams, we aim to combine participants from different sectors with diverse backgrounds and expertise in order to stimulate synergies and the creation of innovative business solutions. For example, a team may consist of representatives from a multinational company, a social start-up, an NGO, GIZ and a research institute from both Europe and the target country.

How long does the lab process take?

The entire lab process, from idea generation to business operation in the target country, takes about nine months. However, the duration ultimately depends on the commitment and momentum of your team. After the initial three-day innovation workshop, only those teams wishing to proceed to and qualifying for the next stage enter the three-month test phase. If the business solutions prove feasible, the teams are given the chance to take part in a six-month pilot phase. Click here to read more about the process.

Do I have to participate in the entire lab process?

No. Once you submit the binding registration form for a specific lab, you are only committed to participating in the initial three-day innovation workshop. After the workshop, each participant can decide whether he or she wants to drop out or continue the innovation process with the team. However, if you apply for the three-month test phase, you must be committed to advancing your business solution together with your team. After the test phase, each participant once again has the option to decide whether to leave the process or continue by applying for the six-month pilot phase.

I did not take part in the innovation workshop. Can I still join a running process?

Generally it is not possible to join a running innovation process as the teams are already established and roles and responsibilities will have already been assigned for the further development of the project. However, if you have a strong interest in the business solutions of an ongoing process, please contact us and we will see if it is feasible to integrate you into one of the teams.

Who owns the solutions that are generated in the innovation workshop?

The lab of tomorrow is an open, collaborative innovation process that aims to develop solutions for a specific developmental challenge. However, we are aware that intellectual property rights are an important concern of our participants. Therefore, prior to the innovation workshop, each participant has to consent to the lab’s participation agreement, which covers all relevant aspects from rights of use to all matters concerning competition law. To enter the test phase, each team additionally compiles its own memorandum of understanding to clarify the rights and obligations of the team members.

Who will finance the further development of the business models?

We search for participants who have a strong business interest in the development and implementation of new business models in the target country. Therefore, the teams should be willing to invest the resources necessary to take their business models forward in the field. However, you are not alone in this endeavour. Together with our global network, we will help you to conduct a local trial of your business solution and then to pilot it in the target country. Our support depends on the individual needs of each team and may include conducting a feasibility study, connecting you with the right partners and facilitating access to funding.

What is a sub-challenge and how can I lead a sub-challenge?

To reduce the complexity of the developmental challenge, we break each one down into various sub-challenges. For example, the challenge to improve the prevention of chronic diseases may entail the sub-challenge of raising health awareness. In cooperation with our participants, the sub-challenges are defined prior to the three-day innovation workshop. If you want to tackle a specific aspect, feel free to contact us and propose a sub-challenge. Together we will discuss your idea, and if it is deemed feasible you will be asked to lead on the sub-challenge. In the innovation workshop, each team will develop a business solution for one of the sub-challenges.

How do I become a partner of the lab of tomorrow?

We are always on the lookout for companies and organisations that are keen to join forces with the lablab of tomorrow and tackle challenges in developing and emerging countries. Click here to find out how to become a partner.