The Sci-Fi Economics Lab in 2020: an update

Despite the lockdown, a lot is going on around the Lab these days. Time for an update to get everyone on the same page.

Funding and architecture

We just received news that EIT Climate-KIC is willing to fund the Lab’s core activities for 2020, subject to certain conditions. This means that there are now two sources of funding for the Lab:

  • The core activities consist of producing out-of-the-box economic knowledge, and seeking impact by trying to influence policy. This might include stuff like producing papers, webinars, events, publications etc. These are funded by the new project, about 130K EUR, of which Edgeryders is going to cover 30%.
  • The community activities consist of reaching out to people on the ground implementing non-standard economic models (eco-villages, neo-cooperatives, local currencies etc.), learning from them and pushing these learnings into a broader intellectual circuit. These are funded by EIT Climate-KIC’s Deep Demonstration on Long-Termism programme, about 90K EUR of which Edgeryders is going to cover 20%.

Impact and revenue pathways

The Lab’s mission is to produce and amplify out-of-the-box economic thinking.
The main way that the Lab can make an impact is by incorporating such thinking into policy. We therefore intend to frame the Lab as a think tank that offers “edge consulting”.

In practice, this means baking long-term, out-of-the-box economic thinking into services and other activities that, unlike the thinking itself, have a market. We intend for them to be “Trojan horses” for this kind of radical thinking; if we are successful, they will create a market for more ambitious business models, investment strategies, policies. In turn, this market demand will reduce the friction associating to transitioning to a low carbon economy. At the same time, this move will create a revenue stream to fund the Lab’s knowledge-creating (marketless) activities.

Other possible revenue streams are donations and participation to paid events.

Partnerships and outreach

In practice, we need to spend 2020 looking for arenas where the Lab can make a contribution, and pitching for it to become involved. We already have several ideas.

What happens in April and May?

  • From sensemaking to pitching long-term thinking in economics and finance. In late March, we attended an online seminar with the whole Long-Termism Deep Demo team. Next step is to prepare a pitch, as a group, for the activities that that Deep Demo deploys in the coming year.

  • Finalize the paperwork of the core project. We need to go through certain steps to go from conditional acceptance to a signed contract. We are on it.

  • Align the extended team. @nadia and I are considering organizing a webinar to present the Lab to some handpicked possible champions of the Lab in their respective organizations. Its goal would be to move from the vision to more specific activities and products that we could pitch to policy makers and other possible allies. One of these allies is the Fondazione di Comunità Messina.


Very impressive!
Congrats to the team, 2020 seems like the year when this is more needed than ever.

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Update: the core activities grant is in fact on a waiting list, pending non-EIT funding to C-KIC. I spoke to several people, and we agreed waiting is a bad idea. We move on with the funding we have, and try to make more along the way. If this grant happens, great, we will treat it as a windfall.