The ‘lab of tomorrow’ a co-creation initiative - Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

How to support German companies in the design of meaningful and impactful solutions for relevant challenges in developing countries

Project Outline

Together with GIZ, J2C co-created the ‘lab of tomorrow' - with the working title “Develop a business idea for a real challenge in Africa”, which is an on-going project and now well-established concept for discovering business opportunities, with a sustainable and impactful aim in developing countries. Preceding to the 'lab of tomorrow' there is a research phase in the target country. During a 3-day workshop, German businesses and entrepreneurs are invited and supported to develop a prototype of their business solution surrounded by experts and entrepreneurs. Subsequently the solutions are furter developed with help of GIZ.
J2C supported GIZ with the first three editions of 'lab of tomorrow'.

Initial Challenge

To create demand-driven and user-centered solutions instead of delivering supply-driven solutions.

Many German companies investing overseas struggle to cater the needs of the local market due to a lack of in-depth understanding. Such approaches of results of supply-driven instead of demand-driven nature leads to limited product lifetime, wasted investments and failed business endeavours. In the light of past experiences and fast-paced change, new approaches to complex problem solving are of eminent importance.


In order to create a dynamic and solution oriented methodology, J2C and GIZ needed deeper insight into the issues at hand.

• Before each workshop, a thorough desk research is undertaken to understand the challenges in depth.

• Each workshop lasts over a period of three days. To date (May 2016) 3 workshops with 30-40 participants per workshop have been completed.

• 5-6 coaches support each workshop,and create together with experts and entrepreneurs from the destination countries a co-creative environment with the right knowledge and skill base present..

Together with regional experts and entrepreneurs as well as our Design Thinking coaches, the ‘lab of tomorrow’ offers a thorough setup for defining a challenge, creating, testing, prototyping and iterating business solutions - as well as testing the prototype in a local market while developing the best go-to-market strategy.

Example of a specific workshop challenge: “How can we enlarge Zambia’s tax base by enabling Small and Medium Enterprises in a barrier-free and meaningful way?”

GIZ and J2C created a methodology and workshop model that can be applied times over, but each new ‘lab of tomorrow’ supports co-creation with different companies, different countries and tackles different challenges – with the dynamic environment and ever changing needs also the format itself has to adapt, while its core approach remains the same each workshop has a different format, keeping this a the project in itself dynamic and ever evolving.

Early testing and the embracing of ambiguity are the keys to coming up with better solutions in the fastest way while learning early what works and what doesn’t work without losing or wasting invested resources. Experience has proven: our model works. The ‘lab of tomorrow’ gives entrepreneurs the means to find the answer to a real challenge instead of creating a solution to which there is no problem.

Insight #1

When enterprises from different backgrounds and stakeholders collaboratively develop solutions there is a much higher likelihood that they will produce sustainable solutions to complex problems.

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Further Discovery

For more news on ‘lab of tomorrow’ visit the GIZ website or check out the links to other videos below:

Videos: (EN) (DE) (DE)

The coaches