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IGL launches Experimental: Stories from the Innovation Growth Lab

What happens when you compel people to innovate — do you end up with better or worse ideas? And how is crowdfunding shifting the power paradigm for women?

These are some of the questions we ask — and answer — in our new magazine Experimental: Stories from Innovation Growth Lab, which showcases examples of experiments we have been supporting through our IGL grants programme that show how good evaluations can change people’s minds and lead to better decisions.

It’s an attitude which has propelled the work of IGL over the years. We believe that a more experimental approach to innovation and growth policy is needed — that asking "what could work" is an important step to knowing what works, and therefore what could be more effective. We know that successful businesses experiment all the time: iterating and tweaking new ideas until they know that they deliver maximum value and efficiency. But governments have been slower to take up this approach.

Too often, policymakers face challenges without clear solutions — under pressure to act they will choose an existing approach, usually with one design and the hope that it will work.

The IGL is helping to shift this approach, by testing assumptions, uncovering new insights, developing new approaches and validating impacts.

In Experimental we explore three stories that shine a light on this more iterative, experimental approach. In one, we learn about hidden innovators and how we may be missing out many breakthrough ideas by not encouraging more people to innovate.

Driven by a desire to throw the net wider for new ideas, this IGL-funded trial, run within a yearly company-wide innovation competition, sought to encourage more employees to come forward with ideas. Using simple behavioural nudges, the experiment revealed it was possible to encourage more people to get involved in the competition and, crucially, that the quality of ideas remained as high.

This experiment showed it’s not only people who volunteer or see themselves as “innovators” that have good ideas.

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Another story investigates whether equity crowdfunding could be a secret weapon for female entrepreneurs.

In this experiment, the researchers revealed a female co-founder of a new venture to some investors, and a male co-founder of the same venture to other investors. Despite the barriers females traditionally face in accessing finance, this research found that investors were as likely to be interested in the female-led venture as the male-led one. So, equity crowdfunding might offer a strong alternative to female entrepreneurs seeking funds to grow their businesses.

You’ll have to read the magazine for the full set of case studies, but we hope you enjoy reading! To hear from IGL, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter and follow @IGLglobal on Twitter.

Author

Elle Wolfhagen

Elle Wolfhagen

Elle Wolfhagen

Policy Communications Manager, Innovation Policy

The Policy Communication Manager's role is to cut across the noise, by maximizing the reach, influence and impact of Nesta's cutting-edge research on innovation in the economy.

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Lou-Davina Stouffs

Lou-Davina Stouffs

Lou-Davina Stouffs

Research and Programme Manager, Innovation Growth Lab

Lou-Davina is Research and Programme Manager for the Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) in Nesta's Research, Analysis and Policy unit.

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Meg Doherty

Meg Doherty

Meg Doherty

Assistant Programme Manager, Innovation Growth Lab

Meg is an Assitant Programme Manager in the Innovation Growth Lab.

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