Labs Methodology

RADIUS’ unique approach to social innovation lab practice combines our signature entrepreneurial education and incubation expertise with the collaborative infrastructure to identify systemic barriers and catalyze new solutions.

Working at multiple levels, we connect the energy and insights generated by entrepreneurial actors creating on the ground solutions with the key people, organizations and systems influencers engaged in the challenge.

This approach bridges the best of innovation labs and incubation programs – some might call it a “lab-cubator” (read more about this definition below). Our overarching commitment is to harnessing entrepreneurial energy and learning in service of systemic change.

Each lab aims to advance...

  1. The capacity of participants to have greater impact now and in the future.

We strive for each RADIUS participant to have a transformative leadership experience.

  1. The impact of the social ventures being cultivated. 

Each venture should be supported to reach its financial and impact goals.

  1. The systemic implications of this work. 

We learn through doing and mobilize insights to catalyze new innovation and help the whole system to learn and evolve.

"Lab-cubator" defined

Social lab +

Events, processes or platforms for:

  • Collaborative, multi-sectoral responses to complex challenges
  • Experimentation and ongoing learning
  • Shifting the hearts, minds and actions of participants
  • With an eye to affecting systems dynamics

Incubator =

Programs that:

  • Build entrepreneur leadership capacity
  • Deepen business acumen
  • Form strong networks of peers, mentors, experts
  • Help secure investment for ventures


Combining the best of both models:

  • Builds participant leadership capacity
  • Harnesses entrepreneurial energy to develop exemplars
  • Surfaces barriers and opportunities to affect systems dynamics
  • Engages a network of stakeholders in collaborating for systemic change


Our multi-year innovation programs move through the following, iterative phases:

Phase 0 – Pre-work: Qualifying the problem space & identifying purpose, partners, resources;

Phase 1 – Opportunity scoping: A deep dive into the problem space, mapping the current system and existing solutions and leverage points;

Phase 2 –  Incubate and learn (and repeat!): The heart of the model, working with those actively building entrepreneurial responses to the issue while generating insights around barriers and opportunities for broader systems change;

Phase 3 – Mobilize learning: Based on insights generated in Phase 2, Phase 3 works to simultaneously:

  • Reframe – Based on our learning, refine our focus and repeat Phase 2.
  • Catalyze – Directly develop new interventions that may overcome broader barriers to innovation or success of those developing solutions.
  • Mobilize knowledge gained to work with interested parties to shift key parts of the system(s) implicated in the opportunity area.


To learn more about social innovation labs, check out these resources:

University of Waterloo Social Innovation Lab Guide

McConnell Foundation blog by Darcy Riddell

Stanford Social Innovation Review article about Zaid Hassan’s

SiG blog by Kiri Bird

Local Economic Development Lab Field Book

Canadian Labs Handbook

Related blog posts


If you have questions about the RADIUS Lab Methodology, contact Associate Director of Labs Véronik Campbell at