KoSI-Lab Project

The project KoSI-Lab develops two municipal social innovation labs in the cities of Dortmund and Wuppertal, Germany. Urban social innovation labs are open institutions to support collaborative work on cities' social, ecological and economic problems. Multi-stakeholder processes convening people from politics, municipal administrations, companies and civil society play a key role in advancing new solutions to urban problems. A driving force of the two innovation labs which KoSI-Lab develops are the involved municipalities, Dortmund and Wuppertal.

The project consortium of KoSI-Lab consists of

  • Social Research Centre, TU Dortmund University
  • Wuppertal Institut
  • ILS – Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development
  • City of Dortmund, Economic Development Agency
  • City of Wuppertal, Department of Civic Engagement
  • Zentrum fur gute Taten (civil society organisation)

SI-labs are important intermediaries convening and facilitating cross-sector stakeholder groups to develop social innovation initiatives. The existing literature gives important hints to what needs to be taken into account in order to build successful SI-labs. It has been shown that lab-participants need careful process-facilitation, e.g. with respect to differing values and institutional logics as well as possible hidden agendas. This poses a challenging task on lab-facilitators. Certain competencies combined in the staff of an SI-lab will help to manage successful cross-sector collaboration.

Report "Social innovation labs - a starting point for social innovation" (PDF).

KoSI-Lab project has received funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research Programme Research for Sustainable Land Management.

Further research is necessary, especially regarding

  • Mandates - as the official order given to an SI-lab to perform a particular lab process
  • Networks - How are labs embedded in their ecosystem?
  • Methods - Which methods are applied to facilitate SI-lab processes?
  • Procedural details – e.g. duration and frequency of workshops

In order to develop “municipal social innovation labs” we want to learn about important aspects of lab developments from existing SI-labs as well as labs that already closed down due to different reasons. Therefore, we are currently running several international case studies with in-depth research on the following key aspects of SI-labs:

  • The lab as an organisation (initiation, resources, milestones, ownership etc.)
  • The lab as a method (topics, tools, impact)
  • People and networks (competencies, connections)

Our case studies include:

In 2017:

  • Tilburg, Netherlands: Midpoint Center for Social Innovation (MCSI)
  • Tilburg, Netherlands: Tilburg Social Innovation Lab (TiSIL)
  • Västerbotten, Sweden: Innovationloop
  • Umeå, Sweden: Sliperiet
  • Copenhagen, Denmark: MindLab

In 2018:

  • Arnsberg, Germany: GovLab Arnsberg
  • Vienna, Austria: GovLab Austria
  • Kent, United Kingdom: Social Innovation Lab Kent (SILK)
  • Toronto, Canada: MaRS Solutions Lab
  • Toronto, Canada: Centre for Social Innovation (CSI)
  • Montréal, Canada: Laboratoire d'innovation sociale (labis)
  • Adelaide, Australia: The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI)


Eva Wascher
Junior Researcher

TU Dortmund University

Tel: 0231 755-90221 (new call number since 28th of January 2019!)