Finance Innovation Lab

LOCATION: United Kingdom

SUMMARY: Finance Innovation Lab is a UK-based non-profit that aims to strategically shift the existing financial paradigm to one that values sustainability and resilience. The Lab works on the system from the bottom up by convening gatherings of innovators, nurturing entrepreneurs, encouraging alternative business models, and seeking to influence economic policies and financial regulation.

PROBLEM SPACE: “We live in a resource-constrained world and the current economic model assumes that growth in perpetuity. This equation does not add up and our financial system must respect this reality.

Over half of the world’s population do not have a bank account. In the West, there is a growing disparity between rich and poor. We need greater democratisation.

Despite massive material progress, people in Britain and the US are no happier than they were 50 years ago. The system encourages ever increasing levels of consumption, building desires fulfilled briefly, to create relentless demand. As Durkheim said “”To pursue a goal which by definition is unattainable is to condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness””. We need a system that enables people to flourish.

Finance is complex and complexity plus homogeneity spell fragility. To build resilience, our system must be more diverse.

Finally, change initiatives tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges are non-systemic and are not reaching their highest potential. Our ambition for the future is to leverage what we’ve learnt about how to intervene at many points in a system at once, to build the pipeline of systems change projects and raise awareness of their effectiveness.

SOLUTION: “Based in London and convened by WWF-UK and Institute of Chartered Accounts in England and Wales (ICAEW). We run 4 major programmes, engaging 3000 to:

1. CREATE: supporting entrepreneurs to create alternatives
Finance Foundry: 12 month accelerator for 20 social businesses pioneering alternative models in finance with The Cabinet Office.

2. ADVOCATE: supporting civil society leaders create financial reform
Campaign Lab: 9 month accelerator for 28 economic justice campaigners with nef & PIRC. Includes Action Aid & Move your Money.
Transforming Finance Coalition: Including Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Share Action. Conference, video with over 4500 hits and Charter signed by 20 orgs.
Disruptive Finance Policy: Programme that shifted policy for new entrants. The Treasury announced reforms at our Peer2Peer summit.

3. EVOLVE: supporting intrapreneurs to repurpose their professions
AuditFutures: Re-purposing the audit profession with Audit Faculty at ICAEW, funded by big 6 audit firms including PwC, Deloitte and Ernst & Young.
TaxFutures: Exploring tax system for people and planet, in partnership with ICAEWs Tax Faculty.

4.AMPLIFY illuminating and connecting the system
Events: Assemblies & drinks on finance hot topics for diverse community, like storytelling drinks and events on alternative finance.
Communications: Systems maps, Prezis, videos, newsletter & publications from our programmes shared widely.”

UPDATE (2018): “In 2017, the Lab partnered with anti-poverty charity Toynbee Hall to support the best innovations for improving financial health. We selected 13 Fellows working on projects that could support financial wellbeing by offering access to fairly priced financial products that are easy to understand and control. Their ideas have the potential to positively disrupt the financial system and challenge the rules of the game in financial health. See the full list of fellows here:
The Lab is developing a new programme for innovators in 2018, as well as developing a programme for ‘intrapreneurs’ working within the mainstream financial system, and strengthening our wider community.”

CONTACT: [email protected]