Ideas Labs

An Ideas Lab is an intense, five-day workshop – an in-person, residential event or, these days, a virtual one — in which 30 or so researchers from disparate fields are brought together by a funding agency to address a Big Challenge in science. The KI team works closely with our clients to design a workshop experience that generates seriously novel research proposals, the kind that don’t come in response to a typical call for research. We produce and facilitate the event, guiding the participants through a series of interactive conversations and activities to engage their curiosity. Along the way, the researches end up reframing the challenge and exploring new ideas that get vetted with real-time peer review. Interdisciplinary groups form around these ideas and develop them into proposals, presenting them on the last day.  The host funding agency invites the teams with the most promise to submit full proposals for funding support.

Our clients find that hosting an Ideas Lab is an effective, efficient way to generate proposals that go beyond the current cutting edge of science. For participants, an Ideas Lab is a unique and unforgettable experience in which they are happily immersed in scientific co-creation and are often surprised by their own ingenuity — and we love it when that happens!

Ideas Labs bring together 25-30 academics and researchers who:

  • Come together for a multi-day, residential workshops*
  • Form interdisciplinary teams around innovative ideas
  • Further develop these ideas through real-time peer review 
  • Put together and present pre-proposals
  • May be on a team invited to submit a full proposal
  • Have a good chance of getting funding to pursue their team’s innovative solution

*KI facilitates Ideas Labs in-person, virtually, or in a hybrid format. 

Ideas Labs are opportunities to build collaborations in a matter of days that would otherwise take years. The result is funded, innovative research focused on complex problems. Sometimes, when direct funding isn’t an element, Ideas Labs are called Innovation Labs.

What’s Included:

  • Project administration
  • Project management board and knowledge base
  • Project planning meetings 
  • Onboarding Organizers, Director, Mentors & Provocateurs 
  • Agenda design
  • Venue assistance
  • Onsite setup and orientation
  • Workshop facilitation
  • Workshop materials
  • Travel & incidentals to and from the event

Optional Add-Ons:

  • Facilitation of Participant selection process
  • Online Collaboration Hub
  • Additional Planning Meetings 
  • Additional Co-facilitator or Other KI Staff 
  • Organizational psychologist application review
  • Additional application review
  • 60-90 minute Micro Labs (before or after the event)
  • Public event website


Lodging and catering at the event are generally arranged for and paid directly by the client for simplicity.

What People Are Saying About KI Ideas Labs

“I thought that the way we felt shepherded/taken care of by the KI team was really critical to the success of the workshop. I went in to the workshop kind of expecting to be run into the ground by the week. Instead, my experience was much the opposite. While the schedule was intense, we were given just the right amount of time to breathe/think/process, and I think it allowed us to push through the last few days of putting together a pitch while still having some creative juices and stamina left at the end. I really appreciate that the team understands the value of making time for this kind of thing for doing successful creative work.”

– AttendeeNSF’s Building a Synthetic Cell (SynCell) Ideas Lab