Innovation Teams and Labs: A practice guide

This practice guide shows what innovation teams and labs do, and provides a practical introduction to establishing and running a new team or lab.

Key findings

  • Learn about the history and current landscape of innovation teams and labs.
  • Understand the benefits of innovation teams, and when they can be effective.
  • Begin to think about designing an innovation team, with practical tools and methods provided to support thinking and planning.

Government innovation is changing. We are witnessing a rapid growth of innovation teams, labs, units and funds across government – all tackling challenges as diverse as reducing murder rates, increasing business growth, and cutting poverty. Yet how do they work, what do they do, and what are the crucial lessons for anyone wanting to set one up?

This Practice Guide is based on Nesta's long experience – both practical and research-driven – around public and social innovation, and outlines how an innovation team, lab, unit or fund can be created.

The guide is primarily aimed at governments, but the methods, lessons and tips are also applicable to a wider audience of businesses, NGOs, and any others interested in developing a structured, disciplined and impactful innovation capability.

Ruth Puttick and the Innovation Skills Team