The lab of tomorrow (lot) approach is a novel and effective way to engage the private sector in delivering lasting solutions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In lab of tomorrow processes, profitable and sustainable products and services are created which at the same time contribute to solving concrete challenges in developing and emerging countries. They are jointly developed and brought to market by local and European companies supported by development cooperation, the public sector, civil society and academia.
With the help of our colleagues and partners in emerging markets, we constantly work to identify business opportunities with development impact. After defining the unmet user needs, the preliminary challenge is published on the website.
To reduce the complexity of the development challenge, we break it down into actionable sub-challenges. For example, the challenge “How might we improve chronic disease prevention and control?” may entail the sub-challenge of “raising health awareness”.
According to their capabilities and interests, our participants can then choose which sub-challenge they want to address. Starting with the Innovation Sprint, participants will work in teams to create a business solution for their chosen sub-challenge.
There is neither a regional nor a thematic focus for lot challenges. However, they need to address an emerging market.
Anyone from the private sector, the public sector and the civil society can participate in lot processes. Ideal participants are committed to invest time and resources, have an entrepreneurial mindset and a hands-on attitude, are open to co-creation methods and have expertise that is relevant to the challenge.
If you are from the private sector, you can harness new revenue sources by accessing new markets and developing new products or services. You can reduce risks associated with innovation thanks to multi-stakeholder collaboration, coaching and additional expertise. You can network with potential partners, including local and European companies, investors and local political actors.
If you are from the public sector or the civil society, you can strengthen cooperation with local and European companies, attract foreign investment and drive innovation. You can use insights and outcomes from the process to tackle country-specific SDG challenges. Thereby you foster tailored innovations that effectively address local development challenges and promote long-term SDG impact through sustainable business models.
Once a challenge is selected and the lot process is scheduled, we open the application process. To participate in the Innovation Sprint you need to fill out the application form on the respective challenge page. Suitable candidates will be contacted and asked to confirm their participation.
With your application on the website, you simply express your interest in participating in a specific lot process. If your application is approved, we will then ask you to confirm your participation. If you need 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.
The concept of lot processes requires that all participants are present throughout the whole Sprint. An absence for even a couple of hours would impair the outcome. However, if you are participating as an investor, topic expert or public sector representative, there might be only a few events during the Innovation Sprint where your presence is compulsory. This can be further specified by the lot team.
For each lot process it is decided individually whether a participation fee is due for the participants. The decisive factor here is, among others, whether the Innovation Sprint is conducted virtually or on site in the partner country. Travel and accommodation costs must always be covered by participants themselves, regardless of whether there is a participation fee or not.
When defining the challenge for an lot process we undertake user-centred research, including field interviews, to ensure that we fully understand the users’ needs and underlying causes. The compiled information is then shared on our website and to all confirmed participants before the Innovation Sprint.
In lot processes, teams are formed that work on one sub-challenge each. A team comprises approximately four to six participants from Europe and the partner country with diverse backgrounds and expertise in order to stimulate synergies and co-creation. Each team will be guided by a professional coach.
The entire lot process, from idea generation to business operation in the partner country, takes about nine months. However, the duration primarily depends on the commitment and momentum of your team.
Once you confirmed your participation, you are only committed to participating in the initial Innovation Sprint. After the Sprint, each participant can decide whether he or she wants to continue working on the idea with their team. However, if a team applies for the incubation phase, it must be committed to advancing its business solution.
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 project. However, if you have a strong interest in the ongoing process, please contact us and we will figure out if it is still possible to integrate you into the work of one of the teams.
Neither the lab of tomorrow, the GIZ nor the BMZ own the ideas that are being developed. Until a product or service is market-ready, and a company is registered, each team compiles its own memorandum of understanding to clarify the rights and obligations of the team members.
The teams should be willing to invest the resources necessary to take their business models forward in the partner country. Together with our network of investors, accelerators and partners, we will help you test your business model in the field.
If you are interested in a partnership with the lot, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always on the lookout for companies and organizations that want to help us address development challenges.