Innovation Growth Lab

Despite the importance of innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship for economic growth, there is still too little evidence on how best to support them. 

We believe that we need a more experimental approach to innovation and growth policy, trialling new instruments but also evaluating them more rigorously. This involves making much more use of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to find out what works and what doesn’t (and when), learning from successful experiences in other fields, such as development economics, health and education.

Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) is a global collaboration that aims to enable, support, undertake and disseminate high impact research that uses RCTs to improve the design of the programmes and institutions that help make our economies more innovative and entrepreneurial.

Our vision

A global laboratory for innovation and growth policy, bringing together governments, researchers and foundations to trial new approaches to increase innovation, accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship and support business growth.

Our aims

  • To improve the evidence base on the impact of different interventions, creating actionable insights for decision makers in public and private organisations.
  • To encourage the development of new interventions, whether testing different designs of existing programmes or experimenting with radically novel types of schemes.
  • To push forward the knowledge frontier on the drivers and barriers to innovation, high-growth entrepreneurship and business growth.

Our activities

We undertake a range of activities to help us deliver our mission:

  • Running trials: We work with our partners, other public and private organisations, and innovative companies to identify new opportunities for trials, which we then develop and run in collaboration with researchers in the IGL Research Network.
  • Funding trials: We support RCTs through the IGL Grants Programme, a bottom-up approach to identify and fund promising trials worldwide, encouraging more researchers and organisations to get into this space.
  • Building and connecting communities: We bring together researchers working on RCTs in this field through the IGL Research Network, and play a matching and brokerage role to help them connect with our growing network of partner organisations open to adopting randomisation in their programmes.
  • Promoting wider adoption of trials: We advocate the need to improve the evidence base on innovation and growth policy, and showcase the value of RCTs in this space in order to encourage wider adoption.
  • Creating useful resources: We aim to improve the knowledge base and develop best practice on how to do RCTs in this space. Learn when they work and when they don’t, and hence when to use and not to use them, creating useful resources to reduce the challenges faced by organisations interested in using RCTs.
  • Disseminating lessons: We act as an aggregator of the evidence emerging from RCTs worldwide (see our trials database), and translate it into actionable insights that are useful for both policymakers and practitioners, disseminating them widely through a range of activities such as presentations, conferences, webinar series and publications.

If you would like to find out more about how we could collaborate, see the work with us section.

IGL is run by a core team based at Nesta and the Barcelona School of Economics (BSE), under the guidance of the IGL Steering Board, composed of representatives from all IGL partners, and benefiting from the advice provided by the IGL Scientific Committee, made up of world-class researchers from around the world. These include:

Nick Bloom Stanford Business School | Dietmar Harhoff Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition | Karim Lakhani Harvard Business School | Josh Lerner Harvard Business School | Fiona Murray MIT Sloan | Mark Schankerman LSE | Scott Stern MIT Sloan | John Van Reenen LSE | Reinhilde Veugelers KULeuven | Heidi Williams Stanford University