Innovation Practice

The Kafue Innovation Center, Zambia, a learning center and community space that provides access to tools and resources to local community members. 

D-Lab’s Innovation Practice group works with diverse partners to develop, advance, and apply participatory innovation as a methodology for tackling poverty.


At each stage of the poverty solution pipeline — problem identification to idea generation, design to implementation, assessment to improvement — authentic and inclusive participation has an important role to play in surfacing deep insights that can lead to better products and services, stronger systems, and more capable communities. Innovation Practice is focused on learning and sharing how to consistently do this well. 

We organize our work within communities of practice that build relationships, enable shared learning, promote collaborative problem-solving, and support collective action by individuals and organizations operating at different scales on a range of challenges. Additionally, this work is pursued through a set of field-based projects that seek to define, create, and assess impact at the community level, while simultaneously informing D-Lab’s Academics and Research groups through in-context collaborations between students, researchers, and global practitioners. Design trainings are often a major component of project implementation, and while the theme and length of these gatherings vary, all strive to create transformative experiences that challenge conventions about who and in what ways people can contribute to the innovation process.

A common goal that joins all of these activities is the creation of practical solutions — technologies, processes, ventures, and systems — that are measurable improvements over the status quo and that can serve as building blocks for people working towards lives and communities defined by opportunity instead of poverty.