Innovation Lab PhotoWhat is the Innovation Lab?

The Innovation Lab is a group of engaged City of Toronto and agency staff who recognize the City’s existing and potential innovation. We are a platform for collaborative experimentation. We work to stimulate and nurture a culture of innovation by experimenting and taking risks, exploring different ways of thinking and doing, bringing people together and sharing ideas.

What does the Lab do?

  • Connect — we get people in the same space (real or virtual) so they can discuss ideas and work together
  • Learn — we are incessantly curious and constantly asking questions to learn more about any topic you can imagine
  • Take action — with all this connecting and learning, we get inspired to take action and experiment to see if we can things to work a little differently than normal at the City

How does the Lab work?

There are two main things you need to know to understand how the Innovation Lab works: how we keep in touch and how we get things done.

Keeping in touch

There are several ways of keeping in touch with the Innovation Lab.

One is by checking this website, which we keep as up-to-date as possible.

Going one layer deeper, you can sign up for our emails here. You’ll get first dibs on invitations to events and opportunities open to all City and agency staff. We use MailChimp to manage our list, so please check your Outlook junk mail folder at work in case our emails to you end up there.

Another layer in, if you want to get into the action or follow planning and organizing conversations as they occur, you can sign up for our GoogleGroup.

Finally, we have monthly meetings open to everyone where we bounce ideas off each other, give updates on our projects, work through problems and usually have a good laugh. Innovation Lab members are notified of these meetings through the GoogleGroup.

Getting things done

The Innovation Lab is a volunteer, staff-led organization. We don’t have a hierarchical organizational structure, and members tend to lean in and out as their time permits.

The Innovation Lab empowers its members to develop their ideas and take action. These could be big or small, and we’ll help you scope your idea so it’s manageable. Let’s say, for example, that you have an idea for how to reduce littered cigarette butts outside of your building. You have a rough idea of what might work but want to hash out the idea in more detail and find someone to help you. We encourage you to bring your idea to one of our monthly meetings to discuss the options and recruit helpers. Then, once the plan for this “passion project” has been solidified, it’s up to you, and the team you’ve inspired to join you, to move it forward. In the meantime, you can always reach out to other Innovation Lab members for help or advice.

Learn more about how to get involved here.