Draft Post: How to build an incubator for accessible environmental solutions?

To make the transition away from the path we are on towards a stable and resilient planet we need to achieve prosperity as well as decarbonization. This relies on our making the necessary advances on three fronts such that they reinforce each other: Technology, policy and behavior change. There are a lot of interdependencies, known and unknown. So the necessary changes have to be made on all three fronts at the same time and in such a way(s) that progress in one reinforces/is aligned with progress in the other two.

An obvious question: how to sustainably incubate work on building opensource, accessible technology solutions for environmental problems?

My notes from a Techfestival 2019 session dedicated to this topic lead by Tristan and William who have founded and are running COACTlab, an incubator run out of Valladura campus - a building purchased by an architecture university to run an experiment in self-sufficiency.
Social Agriculture
Green fab lab workshop - connects it to global community and network

List of projects coming out of Coactlab so far:
Romi - robotics for microfarming
Moss Voltaics - using photosynthesis

They asked:

  • How to assess impact? Two resources have been mentioned Look at the Impact Measurement Project and Public.io. Also, this is a follow up post on the topic in response to their question.

  • How to make it work financially? We are working on a sustainability model for openvillage which I will share in here when the first draft is ready.

  • Which topics/issues to focus on? I took down some quick notes from the presentation and fishbowl on Impact Technologies for tackling environmental problems. Will be cleaning them up into a post in the coming days. A summary of key points:

    • Key areas to focus on according to Owen Gaffney at Stockholm resilience centre: Energy supply, industry, buildings, transport, food consumption, agriculture and forestry
    • Benjamin: Innovation for Carbon Capture and reuse, as well as Lowering carbon emission

Key input:

  • Focus on incubator for accessible environmental solutions - put less communication emphasis on open source or non profit.

  • The annual market of SDG solutions is 12 Trillion USD, huge market for investors to put money into but most of it tied to labs// research coming out of high tech in wealthy economies with advanced science and tech facilities - a lot will not be locked behind IP wall and not accessible to less wealthy.

  • Pick where you want to be focusing your efforts: According to Good Tech Lab you need technology, policy and behaviour change - and they need to reinforce each other.

  • Sustainability: Focus/think in terms of how I can build a community and get it to critical mass (e.g running a green fablab to plug it int network of fablabs. Incubator as a community builder
    *Impact: a) How many of similar projects did you inspire i.e Replication, if more similar incubators are set up elsewhere. b) can you build a model that can be reproduced elsewhere? 3) Size and engagement of community.

What issue should they focus on for the first year?

What should they name it?

How do you fund it?
We don’t own the infrastructure, we are an organisation that rents the space from the university.
Currently bootstrapping, paying for it ourselves.
Ultimately; Getting people to help fund it through membership

Follow up with:

Recommendations for setting up the incubator
What is your UVP with respect to high tech University/Labs? Next billion - accessible, cocreative, personal development - closer to folkhogskola as setting the foundations for prosperity.

  • Focus less on opensource and non-profit than on the mission and quantify it: solutions to sustainability, climate change and reaching 0 or even negative carbon emissions in a number of key aras: Food consumption, Transport, Agriculture, Energy etc (see
  • Make your values and red lines explicit

-Enhancing the we not the me - a “no ego” concept as

  • circular economy
  • frugality
  • give to the land - land regeneration

Topics: (augment with input from other discussion on moonshots:

  • Food waste - logistics and transportation of food
  • producing local
  • knowing what is in season
  • Deforestation: monitoring illefal logging leaves substances in water which you can trrack with sensors and notifyactivcists with

Follow up with Coactlab/ William LLoyd George, Tristan about partnering with us

  • Participating in the Deep Green + Tech workshop in Berlin
  • Offering space to host the follow up retreat with larger group of people at their non-profit incubator
    for developing opensource, appropriate, technology solutions to environmental challenges.
  • Ideally signing up as Mentors for the OCI lab

Long time no hear EdgePeoples,

Getting far closer to centre these days eh?

Such are the times.

Interesting things afoot in Ireland between regenerative landtrusts, community ownership modelling, food commons at the Growery now I tegraring with local authorities, and so on and suchlike.

Hope all’s rosey on the mainland… :wink:


Hi @eimhin, long time no see indeed.

We aim to connect center and edges… this was always the goal. :slight_smile: