Social innovation labs seek to create the space for diverse stakeholders to convene around complex societal challenges and to rapidly prototype and develop new solutions.

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Actions for NSW Agriculture was a 10-month social innovation lab that began in July 2015. Led by Australian Futures Project with funding from Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and other supporters, the lab had a remit to help shape the future of agriculture by building the understanding, connections, and capabilities of a diverse group of sixty Australians to identify, test, and develop solutions for some of agriculture’s greatest challenges. Actions for NSW Agriculture culminated in a pitch event in April 2016 called ‘Flourish’.

To help maintain the success and momentum created during the initiative, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation supported the Australian Futures Project to provide ongoing coaching to three teams that pitched at Flourish. This coaching ran from October 2016 to August 2017. Teams were also provided with $10,000 seed funding. The projects were chosen based on their strong concepts and high potential for public good impact. Each has since made steady progress (for example see the Grow Love Project and Visit My Farm.

We are pleased that several other lab projects have also continued to progress independently. In addition to taking ideas to action, the lab built improved leadership and collaboration capabilities of participants. By the end of the lab, 86% of respondents felt more confident in their ability to provide leadership in the agricultural sector, 95% of respondents planned to stay in contact with participants that they had never met before the process, and 67% said these new connections had resulted in their involvement in new projects outside the program.

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