A New Approach
The Future Economy Lab is a global research and design lab focused on innovating how we create financial mechanisms and collaborative strategies across regions, impact sectors, and communities around the world. It is built on the belief that economies can generate more than financial returns for a select few. We believe economies of the future will need to benefit people and protect the planet. Building these economies requires a new, collaborative approach.
For too long, the financial tools at the heart of our economies have been developed through exclusive processes and without diverse perspectives and input. This has led to a narrow set of values and principles incentivizing fast financial returns over social and environmental impact or long-term sustainability of investments. The Future Economy Lab is a global research and design lab with a new approach to challenge these norms.
Instead of creating a financial mechanism for a specific sector/region we create it with the stakeholders of that economy. This collaborative process is grounded on research of both the supply and demand sides of capital to ensure that the mechanism created meets the needs of investors, entrepreneurs, and the community at large.
The Future Economy Lab developed a collaborative research and learning process that actively engages the communities and stakeholders directly involved in the economy that the Future Economy Lab hopes to shape.
We start by envisioning a market opportunity with a landscape assessment of public and private actors in the space as well as the community itself that is most impacted by the economy.
Second, we define the challenges, biases and gaps in the economy through research, interviews, and visioning workshops in direct collaboration with our partners, communities and all active stakeholders, including investors, governments, and entrepreneurs.
Next, we design new financial mechanisms and identify the need for complementary ecosystem development programming to address the gaps and catalyze new solutions to the challenges we’ve surfaced.
Lastly, we launch these new solutions. We refine the financial and impact models in order to raise new capital mechanisms and begin new programs with the support and collaboration of the communities themselves.
By engaging a diverse set of stakeholders throughout the process – from beginning to end – we create better solutions that are less risky and more aligned with the real needs of our societies.
These are the economies of the future.
Throughout the process, learnings will be documented to inform the process and design of future labs.
Future Economy Lab’s work spans across sectors and regions. We have tackled challenges in the economies of climate, public education, and are starting to work in others. Our process-driven approach also works for building inclusive financial tools for whole industries like real estate or for specific geographies like cities or states. Learn more about some of our lab’s findings below.
Building on SecondMuse’s extensive networks and regional expertise through the Frontier Labs suite of programming and The Incubation Network, we will run a series of labs to address capital needs of gender-smart, climate focused, small and medium sized enterprises. Each lab will focus on a unique challenge, such as how to scale nature-based solutions or support informal workers.
Abundantly Investing in Girls, Femmes, and Gender Expansive Youth of Color
Alongside girls, femmes, and gender expansive youth of Color (ages 13 to 24) across the U.S. and its territories, and with the support of a variety of stakeholders including capital providers, direct service providers like nonprofits and community organizations, government, and academics, we are co-designing financial mechanism(s) and strategies to increase investments to these young people and their communities that are designed with and not only for them.
While engaging capital providers, entrepreneurs, academics, philanthropies, and legal advisors across varying industries and organizational life stages, this lab is co-designing a financial mechanism(s) that unlocks greater access to capital and technical support while both reducing barriers and influencing existing systems towards supporting collectively-owned organizations.
Property Ownership for Small Businesses
By collaborating with small business owners, industry and ecosystem experts, and investors to understand the barriers to mortgage lending and opportunities to overcome them, we aim to co-create a financial instrument(s) for mobilizing financial capital and other resources to small business owners so that they can purchase property.
Tailoring the complex landscape of climate finance to Québec’s entrepreneurs and investors requires a strong understanding of the provinces resources, entrepreneurial activity, investor culture, and political priorities.
This Future Economy Lab engaged over 50 organizations in a research and design phase which resulted in CLIO, a $50 million climate-focused blended finance fund, paired with an ecosystem program to support the development and growth of climate innovations and entrepreneurs, while promoting equity, diversity and inclusion across the climate economy. The fund is being raised and deployed in 2021.
Learn more about the process and the initial financial mechanism design.
The K-12 and postsecondary market is ripe for transformation. But there are structural issues and barriers to increased investment and equitable solutions in the sector – particularly for entrepreneurs of color, women, and other marginalized populations who are more likely to use public education themselves.
This Future Economy Lab identified 14 building blocks for transforming public education investment equitably and sustainably and used these principles to design two preliminary interventions in the education market. What we discovered in our process was that additional venture capital was not needed in this sector but instead more diverse types of capital such as character-based loans or revenue-based financing models, programming to provide holistic support to entrepreneurs, and better impact measurement businesses in the education sector that prioritize better educational outcomes and reaching a diverse student population.
There are ongoing conversations around programming to support existing fund managers and entrepreneur support organizations to integrate some of our findings in their work.
New York Climate
Through engaging a diverse group of investors as well as a large entrepreneurial community in partnership with our Venture for Climate Tech program, this lab sought to identity what financial mechanism could create a sustainable ecosystem around early stage climate technology innovation and innovators.