How do I setup an Innovation Lab?

A guide to setting up an innovation Lab, from the founder of BBC News Labs.


Setting up an Innovation Lab

  1. Define your mission (incl what success looks like).
  2. Gather advocates and supporters.
  3. Secure funding.
  4. Make space and get space.
  5. Launch it.

By . Published: 2019/08/11 1:14:00 PM, Last Updated: 2019/08/11 1:18:14 PM

More detail

There is no single right way of doing this, but here is a rough guide to help you push through your Innovation Lab project idea. This is broadly how I setup BBC News Labs back in 2012 (NB – it was a slow process over 2 years to build it to a £3m annual operation, with multiple partners, most notably the fabulous BBC R&D department).

a) Define your mission

Your Innovation Lab should have a mission statement, and ideally a BHAG statement.

Use the “How might we…?” template to frame the challenges you will tackle.

b) Gather your advocates.

In all industries, the important factor is WHO YOU HAVE ON SIDE! i.e. “Who are your advocates and supporters?” This is your route to securing funding.

c) Secure your funding.

Using your advocate network, seek-out sources of internal, external commercial and gov funding.

d) Make space and get space.

Secure your location, get your people together.

e) Launch it. Go!

Get the process started!! How will you run this Innovation Lab programme? The FROST Innovation Framework is a good place to start:-

  1. Focused – You articulate your challenges using the “How might we … ?” question template.
  2. Regular – You ensure that the innovation sessions are regular, recurring, and are protected against “emergencies”.
  3. Open – You ensure that the challenge is open, unrestricted, and importantly has no implementation details stipulated.
  4. Safe – Your staff and all participants, really do honestly feel safe to take risks, and to try anything they want to.
  5. Tangible – The outputs must be working prototypes of some form (NOT just pictures or people waving their arms).


Matt Shearer setup BBC News Labs in 2012. You can read more here on the BBC News Labs website.

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FAQ Created: 2019/08/11 1:14:00 PM, Last Updated: 2019/08/11 1:18:14 PM By .