UNDP starts its own worldwide network of Accelerator Labs

UNDP starts a network of Accelerator Labs to boost Sustainable Development worldwide; opportunities for Fab Labs; hiring started, deadlines around 24 February 2019

60 Accelerator labs

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has selected 60 countries where they want to establish an Accelerator Lab. Together they will form “the largest learning network in the field of Sustainable Development. The 60 teams will build on each others’ knowledge and learning on a weekly basis. See: Website UNDP Accelerator Labs

Recruitment started

UNDP already started a worldwide recruitment campaign for the management of the new Accelerator labs. They all have vacancies now for “Head of Exploration“, “Head of Experimentation” and “Head of Solutions Mapping“. The deadline for job applications is about 24 February 2019 and may vary by country.

Why Accelerator labs?

The UNDP wants to increase the pace at which it helps realize solutions for Sustainable Development and therefore it opts for a radically different approach: a worldwide network of Accelerator labs. This is done on the basis of four principles, we quote:

  • Building on locally-sourced solutions, finding things that work and expanding on them
  • Rapid testing and iteration to implement what works and go beyond the obvious solutions
  • Combining the best understanding, ideas and expertise to generate collective knowledge
  • Accelerating progress by bringing expertise, creativity and collective intelligence to bear

The four principles mentioned above, perfectly match the fab labs. And further: since 2017, the Sustainable Development Goals are mentioned as a useful frame-of-reference to identify fab labs external objectives. A work-group with members from all continents stimulates the fab labs to determine their SDG-profile. See: Fab Labs and SDGs workshop manual

UNDP gives examples of people who might apply for the jobs they are offering. It thinks of:

  • former entrepreneurs, business development lead or partnerships lead for the position of Head of Exploration”;
  • product lead, architect/industrial designer or strategy lead for “Head of Experimentation”
  • design researcher, journalist or ethnographic researcher for “Head of Solutions Mapping”.

Table – Countries with/without Accelerator lab and Fab Lab(s); sources: acceleratorlabs.undp.org and www.fablabs.io, retrieved 11Feb. 2019; almost all countries of the world (193) adopted the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

  • Countries with Accelerator Lab AND Fab Lab(s): Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Rwanda, Serbia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam

  • Countries with Accelerator Lab WITHOUT Fab Lab(s): Angola, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Dominican Republic, Eswatini, Fiji, Iraq, Lao PDR, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Timor Leste, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zambia, Zimbabwe

60 Accelerator labs have been planned for 60 countries. 1500+ Fab labs are operational already in 118 countries. In 26 countries Accelerator lab and fab lab will co-exist, in 34 countries an Accelerator lab has been planned while a fab lab does not exist there yet.

UNDP is looking for people capable and excited about starting, designing, and managing projects, direct engagement with local communities and collaboration across global networks. These are exactly the competencies that the international fab lab network propagates and realizes.

To conclude: The UNDP initiative offers interesting opportunities for the existing fab labs and our network: opportunities for work for their students, volunteers and staff, partnerships in countries where both networks co-exist, and a huge challenge to realize such partnerships in the more than 34 countries that UNDP has identified, but which are still without fab lab.

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Maybe the Fab Lab central organ could offer a partnership: http://acceleratorlabs.undp.org/contact