UNDP Accelerator Labs: Re-imagining development for the 21st century
The impact of artificial intelligence on unemployment. The potential for disinformation to spread on social media. The need for policies that keep up with and drive innovation, while protecting human rights.
Many of these challenges are growing exponentially. The speed, dynamics and complexity of today’s social, economic and environmental problems are fundamentally different from previous eras in history.
The Accelerator Labs are UNDP’s new way of working in development. Together with our core partners, the State of Qatar and the Federal Republic of Germany, 60 labs serving 78 countries will work together with national and global partners to find radically new approaches that fit the complexity of current development challenges.
The labs will transform our collective approach by introducing new services, backed by evidence and practice, and by accelerating the testing and dissemination of solutions within and across countries. Sense-making, collective intelligence, solutions mapping and experimentation will be part of the new offer from UNDP to governments.
Together with partners, the Labs will analyze challenges within local contexts to identify connections and patterns in search of new avenues of work to act effectively in addressing wicked development challenges.
Building on local innovators
The Labs will identify grassroots solutions together with local actors and validate their potential to accelerate development. Solutions can come in many different forms, from a farmer discovering a new way to prevent floods to a nonprofit that is especially impactful.
The labs will also harness the potential of real time data and people’s energy to respond to rapidly evolving challenges that impact development.
Building on these locally-sourced solutions, the labs will rapid test and iterate new ideas to learn which ones work, which ones can grow, and which ones don’t, bringing experimentation to the core of our work.
The ability to bridge to scale
The labs will accelerate their learning by operating within a global network where each lab learns from the rest, by exploring multiple solutions in parallel, and by designing experiments that teach us whether solutions can work and grow in weeks or months rather than years.
Accelerator Labs will build on UNDP’s partnerships with governments to scale solutions. Together with partners, they will try to learn what combination of solutions can influence how development is delivered. We’ll also be exploring policy frameworks that are needed to frame the ethics and incentives to drive development acceleration and try to identify portfolios of solutions that could spin off into independent ventures.
Read more about the Accelerator Labs:
Learning smarter; a global hunt for solutions to 'frontier challenges'
Accelerator Labs: the challenge of engaging the mothership
What are the new skills we need in development?