Highlights from the Spring 2020 Cycle of The Innovation Fund

by Tiffany Ferguson, on July 29, 2020 at 12:25 PM

We are excited to share our first Ecosystem Report, a series of highlights gleaned from the Spring 2020 Cycle of The Innovation Fund. 

A Call for Innovation in Worker Supports 

Earlier this month, we announced and celebrated winners of The Innovation Fund Spring 2020 cycle. Now, we want to share what we learned from the process. 

The Workers Lab’s purpose is to give new ideas about increasing worker power a chance to succeed and flourish. The Innovation Fund is central to our purpose, enabling us to surface and invest in new ideas, while also learning from hundreds of innovators. That is why we are excited to be sharing this inaugural Ecosystem Report from our spring 2020 cycle. Access the report on A Call for Innovation in Worker Supports now!

What is an Ecosystem Report?

The Innovation Fund is our signature program because of what it teaches us about the state of worker-centered innovation. Each calendar year, we run multiple cycles of The Innovation Fund which yields robust opportunities for learning and reflection. 

When we say ecosystem, we refer to the broad set of actors who through seeking prize funding from The Innovation Fund, are aligning themselves with our vision for workers to become powerful drivers of social, economic, and political transformation.

The purpose of the Ecosystem Report is to share high-level observations from the spring 2020 cycle. This includes surfacing topical and demographic trends among the applicant pool, comparing this cycle’s trends to that of the fall 2019 cycle, and spotlighting proposals on special topics, such as rural workers and benefits access. The report concludes with a snapshot of spring 2020 finalists and a look towards the future.

The Innovation Fund Ecosystem Report: Spring 2020

The report is organized into four sections: Introduction, Open Call Highlights, Finalist Highlights, and Looking to the Future. Our goal with this inaugural report was to not only share key data points and insights from the process, but to also provide visibility into our efforts to make meaning of the data. Here are a few highlights from the report: 

  • This was our largest pool of applications ever
  • Innovators were majority women and people of color
  • Innovative ideas for worker supports can be applied in many industry contexts
  • Innovators were most focused on improving career mobility and least focused on ensuring workers have recourse at work
  • A closer look at ‘rural’ and ‘benefits’, two key topics of interest, offered ideas for future learning and engagement

Curious to learn more? Access the inaugural report here.

About The Innovation Fund 
Since its inception, The Workers Lab has sought to impact worker power with its signature investment program, The Innovation Fund. Since its founding, The Workers Lab has distributed over $3.5 million in grants to 46 innovators. Each cycle, we invite entrepreneurs, non-profits, and public and private sector leaders to submit innovative ideas to improve worker power. Winners receive $150,000 to test their solution and 12 months to evaluate its long term sustainability and potential for scale.

The Summer 2020 cycle of The Innovation Fund is open!
We're funding - from $75K to $150K - ideas improving worker health and safety. If you missed it, read "Now Is the Time - New Ideas Needed to Protect Worker Health and Safety" to see if your idea might be a good fit. Applications close on August 17th! 

Notify me when The Innovation Fund applications open

Topics: The Innovation Fund