Hosting an UNLEASH Innovation Lab FAQ

Read the answers to the questions below if you and your organization are interested in organizing or hosting an UNLEASH Innovation Lab.

The Program

What is an UNLEASH Innovation Lab?

UNLEASH Innovation Labs are a one-week program designed to equip young changemakers with the tools, mindset, and network they need to create positive impact. Since 2017, UNLEASH has hosted several Innovation Labs around the world. During the week, 1000 talented youth from all over the world come together to co-create solutions related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) guided by the UNLEASH Innovation Methodology.


As we strive to accelerate the progress towards sustainable development in different regions of the world, we are extending an opportunity to co-create Innovation Labs with like-minded organizations, changemakers, and members of the UNLEASH Community.

What makes UNLEASH Innovation Labs unique?

We bring in young participants (called Talents at UNLEASH), aged 18-35, from different backgrounds to spend a week co-creating solutions for a sustainable future. At the beginning of the week, they’re put into groups of 4-5 and work through the five phases of the innovation process, guided by trained UNLEASH Facilitators and Experts. At the end of the week, the Teams pitch their solution to our Partners and fellow peers. In addition to the innovation process, our Talents take part in a number of exciting cultural experiences in our host country throughout the week.


As a non-profit, UNLEASH’s social mission is to make our programs accessible for everyone, regardless of their background. As such, all relevant costs for participants (incl. Talents and Facilitators) are covered by the Innovation Lab Organizing Team (OT). These include flight travel, accommodation, food, curriculum, facilitation, and program activities for the entire program. As a general rule, all Talents must pay a registration fee of 150 USD to confirm their spot at the UNLEASH Innovation Lab. This fee mitigates no-shows and ensures that we do not have empty seats where other Talents could have had the opportunity to participate. Those who cannot afford the registration fee can apply for a scholarship, which is meant solely for those individuals who are unable to attend the Innovation Lab without scholarship support.

What is the UNLEASH Innovation Methodology?

The UNLEASH Innovation Methodology is a human-centered, iterrative approach based on design thinking principles. It is an Innovation Process designed to facilitate collaborative problem-solving by leveraging diverse perspectives, expertise, and interdisciplinary approaches. Through structured processes and tools, collated in the Activity Cards Deck, it fosters creativity, co-creation, and the development of impactful solutions for sustainable development.

Why host an UNLEASH Innovation Lab?

Bringing UNLEASH to your city or region presents a unique opportunity that offers global exposure, a boost in the innovation ecosystem, and equips youth with a wealth of transferable life-long skills. You will be part of creating an immersive and life-changing experience that leverages the unique aspects and culture of your region to foster positive impact.


The Innovation Lab is a space to engage with and nurture the local innovation and entrepreneurship scene to ignite impactful solutions in your community, with the potential to be amplified at a global scale. Local youth will gain innovation tools, an intercultural mindset, and SDG knowledge, and become part of a global network of changemakers and innovators.

What are the expected outcomes of hosting an Innovation Lab?

As part of the program, youth from all over the world develop innovative solutions and actionable ideas addressing specific challenges related to the Sustainable Development Goals. Talents from all backgrounds gain transferable skills on innovation, design thinking, sustainability, social impact and community leadership.


After the Innovation Lab, Talents will become part of the UNLEASH Community, a vibrant network of 8,000 changemakers across 180 countries. They will get support from UNLEASH to implement their solutions and continue their journey towards sustainable impact, by organizing their own UNLEASH Hacks or becoming UNLEASH Ambassadors if they wish to do so.

Do we need to organize a 1.000 UNLEASH Innovation Lab, or can we decide the size?

The minimum amount of people for it to be an UNLEASH Innovation Lab is 200, but you could organize a 750 person Innovation Lab, or a 283 person Innovation Lab. You decide!

Does the Innovation Lab need to bring together people from all around the world, or can we limit it to a specific region?

That depends on what is the goal of the Innovation Lab you want to design. Are you aiming to create local impact with global perspectives? Would you like to bring together young people from the continent to create momentum amongst that youth? You can choose to host a Global Innovation Lab (bringing Talents from across the world) or a Regional Innovation Lab (bringing Talents within the region).  

We have seen that each Innovation Lab has different SDG Tracks. How are they determined?

For every Innovation Lab, UNLEASH reaches out to our Community, Partners and subject-matter Experts to decide what are the most relevant themes to focus on based on the host country of the Innovation Lab.


If you’d like to focus on local challenges, we strongly encourage you to do some initial research and find out what are the areas within the SDGs that the host country where you want to host the Innovation Lab is currently lagging behind.

What are the logistical requirements for hosting UNLEASH Innovation Labs?

The basic logistic considerations when scoping an Innovation Lab are: adequate venue space with appropriate facilities for workshops, presentations, and co-creation / working sessions (which depends on the size of the Innovation Lab); access to accommodation for participants; reliable internet connectivity; catering services; and transportation options (both to/from the host country and around the city during the week, and any visa processes for international travel).

Organizing an Innovation Lab

How long does it take to organize an Innovation Lab?

Between 18-12 months. If you are already well established in the area and have access to the venue and can secure the accommodation for participants in advance, the timeframe can be reduced to no less than 12 months. UNLEASH will walk you through the process and the different milestones that need to be achieved at the different stages of the planning process.

How will we collaborate with the UNLEASH Secretariat in designing the Innovation Lab?

The Organizing Team (OT) will work closely with UNLEASH to design the overall experience of the program, incl. co-creating the agenda, selecting the SDG Tracks, identifying participants, etc. We will have recurring meetings throughout the entire planning period and UNLEASH will share references and templates that will make the organization of the Innovation Lab smooth, as well as the reporting associated afterwards.

What support will be provided to the Organizing Team, once selected?

UNLEASH will provide guidance, toolkits, and expertise to ensure the successful planning and execution of the Innovation Lab. The UNLEASH Secretariat will take care of the implementation of the Innovation Methodology and its adaptation to the program (incl. Facilitator Training) end to end, and will support with access to networks and Partners, and communications and branding. Details around the level of support from UNLEASH to the OT can be discussed during the application period, depending on the specific needs of the OT and the Innovation Lab being proposed.

We want to host an Innovation Lab in our city/region but would like UNLEASH to organize it. Is that possible?

Yes. You can indicate so in the application form, under the section “The Innovation Lab at a glance”. Once we review your proposal, we will get back to you via e-mail on what are the next steps to bring to life the Innovation Lab.   

Can multiple organizations collaborate to co-host an Innovation Lab?

Yes. In fact, it takes a (global) village to organize an UNLEASH Innovation Lab. Please do note UNLEASH requires a legal entity to establish a partnership with.

What are the financial implications for the host organization to make an Innovation Lab happen?

Fundraising for the Innovation Lab is the OT’s responsibility. UNLEASH will help you create a fundraising strategy that supports your ambition and can help with connecting you to our Partners and Community members in the area.


The cost of organizing an Innovation Lab depends on multiple factors, such as the size of the cohort, the geographical scope, the destination, and the period of the year. During the application period, UNLEASH can help your organization estimate the cost of the Innovation Lab you envision, and create different scenarios that can be adapted to a realistic budget.


Please note that UNLEASH must be involved in budget approvals and financial reporting for all UNLEASH Innovation Labs.

Are there any ongoing commitments or responsibilities for Innovation Lab OTs after the program?

When conceptualizing the program, we ask Organizing Teams to consider the sustained impact and community engagement that the Innovation Lab will bring to the host country. This involves fostering partnerships with local stakeholders, supporting the implementation of innovative solutions, and integrating Innovation Lab outcomes into local development strategies. To create long-term sustainability in the region, it is crucial to consider post-Innovation Lab activities that nurture the innovation ecosystem, provide resources for scaling projects, and facilitate knowledge sharing within the host country and beyond.


Additionally, Organizing Teams must consider the sensitivities of the local community to ensure meaningful and enduring contributions beyond the program’s duration.

The Application Process

How does the process for applying to host an UNLEASH Innovation Lab look like?

Once you have read the FAQs and conceptualized your vision for the Innovation Lab, please submit your application in a PDF format to the UNLEASH Secretariat over e-mail. The UNLEASH Secretariat will review your proposal and provide feedback within 3 weeks after submission. Our goal is to support all applications who fulfill the requirements by helping you refine your concept.

If you are qualified to become a host, the UNLEASH Secretariat will share with you the full application package to help you better define the Innovation Lab. Once the final application is approved, the two parties sign the MoU and the planning begins!

Once we have applied, when will we hear back from the UNLEASH Secretariat?

Once you complete the first step of the application process, the UNLEASH Secretariat will review your proposal and provide feedback within 3 weeks.

Can I apply as an individual to organize an UNLEASH Innovation Lab?

Yes and no 🙂 You can apply as an individual if you’re representing an organization (ie. you are the Partnerships Manager of an organization), or if you have a legal entity with relevant experience and expertise related to hosting an UNLEASH Innovation Lab.


Organizing an UNLEASH Innovation Lab requires an entire team with many different skillsets that works exclusively in its planning and execution for at least a year before the program takes place (always depending on the size and other variables that may have an impact in its complexity). UNLEASH can be involved in the planning and execution to various degrees, and we will discuss this with you during the application process.

What are the evaluation criteria?

One of the most important aspects for organizing an Innovation Lab is to create an environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and social impact. The UNLEASH Secretariat will support all applications that aim for that, and which are aligned with our values, mission, and vision.


Some of the criteria that will be considered when assessing applications are: access to facilities and resources, including financial resources to cover the costs of the Innovation Lab; capacity to provide logistical support; commitment to sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusivity; ambition to support local ecosystems; expertise in innovation, facilitation processes, and event management.  

Community-Driven Innovation Labs

What are Community-Driven Innovation Labs and how do they differ from a standard UNLEASH Innovation Lab?

The only difference between a Community-Driven Innovation Lab and an Innovation Lab that is not “Community-Driven” is who is behind the Organizing Team.  


After their experience in an Innovation Lab, some UNLEASH Alumni come back home inspired to organize the program in their country, adapting it to the local context and tapping into their networks to strengthen their local community by sharing the UNLEASH Innovation Methodology. UNLEASH supports them the same way as the Organizing Teams that are not Community Members, by providing the toolkits and guidance required to plan and execute the program.


Additionally, the UNLEASH Secretariat can take on the organization of an Innovation Lab for the host of non-Community-Driven Innovation Labs. The level of support from UNLEASH will vary depending on the organization’s requirements.

I joined an Innovation Lab as a Talent recently and would like to bring the UNLEASH experience to my home country. Can I apply to host an Innovation Lab?

If you represent an organization or have a legal entity, you’re welcome to apply to organize an Innovation Lab. If you don’t, we encourage you to gain experience in mobilizing your community by organizing an UNLEASH Hack.

Do you have any questions about hosting an UNLEASH Innovation Lab?