View from Inside of a Geodesic Dome with many plants

BFI Design Lab

BFI was founded in 1983 to inspire and support new generations of design science innovation. From 2007-17, we ran the globally recognized Buckminster Fuller Challenge, which awarded a prize to support the development and implementation of high potential solutions that “solve humanity’s most pressing problems in the shortest possible time while enhancing the Earth’s ecological integrity.” As BFI approaches its 40th Anniversary, we have launched the BFI Design Lab – a non-profit design studio and accelerator – to support design science solutions addressing a wide range of fundamental needs including biodiversity, climate, food, water, energy, materials, shelter, transportation, health, and education.

The BFI Design Lab is carefully curating a cohort of projects meeting the criteria below. Some projects are being strategically developed by BFI while others are crowdsourced, with the aim of generating cascading benefits for the entire cohort and the planet.

  • Comprehensive: demonstrating whole systems thinking and analysis across scales, contexts, and worldviews;
  • Anticipatory: proactively tracking critical trends and assessing long-term consequences of proposed solutions;
  • Regenerative: working to regenerate and restore living processes into optimal, healthy, thriving relationship;
  • Inclusive: celebrating the resilience of diversity within project teams and the communities they are co-designing with in order to promote system-wide health;
  • Commons-Based: committing to placing some intellectual property (IP) in the commons and explore commons-based and regenerative economic models;
  • Verifiable: able to withstand rigorous empirical testing;
  • Achievable: likely to be implemented successfully and broadly adapted within diverse cultural and ecological contexts.

The BFI Design Lab offers multiple types of support:

  • A digital spotlight within BFI global networks;
  • Membership in the BFI Design Lab’s global cohort, with the ability to interact with other visionary projects in the cohort;
  • Structured design science support drawing on decades of global experience;
  • Project incubation through non-profit fiscal sponsorship by BFI where helpful;
  • Joint fundraising opportunities that can draw on BFI’s institutional track record;
  • Longer-term connections to aligned forms of capital including BFI’s proposed Syntropy Fund for regenerative investment; and
  • Open design, open science, open data, and related software and tools as they are jointly developed within the BFI Design Lab’s global cohort.

A sample project charter is available below, and provides a good overview of the project criteria and spontaneous cooperation commitments between the BFI Design and a project. For inquiries on the BFI Design Lab, please contact us.