Accelerator LAB in Bangladesh

UNDP learning network: Accelerator Lab

In 2019, UNDP set up the journey of the fastest and largest learning network on sustainable development challenges named Accelerator Lab. Initially, covering 78 countries building 60 labs, the network gradually expanded to 92 labs in 116 different countries. Bangladesh, the second cohort of this learning network initiated their journey amidst these challenging times.

What’s so different/unique about this lab?

This is the #NextGenUNDP, walking the talk as an innovative, agile partner – and inspiring others to do the same. The Accelerator Labs are part of our effort to inject innovation into our organizational DNA. The Labs combine deep local networks that allow the partners to elevate grassroots solutions as well as to source solutions globally from across the Lab network, the network partners, and UNDP. Sense-making, Collective Intelligence, Solutions Mapping and Experimentation will be part of the new offer from UNDP to Government.

A quick glance at the structure of this largest network:

The UNDP Accelerator Labs are a new service offering that works with people, governments, and the private sector to reimagine development for the 21st century. Through long-standing partnerships with national governments, we are creating a new capability for decision-makers to explore, experiment, and grow portfolios of mutually-reinforcing solutions to tackle complex challenges from multiple angles. At UNDP, we are disrupting the way we deliver, think, invest and manage to perform faster, better and at scale.

The outcome will be the beginnings of new approaches to developing solutions, embedded within UNDP’s global architecture and country platforms. This will be achieved by:

●      Building on locally-sourced solutions, finding things that work and expanding on them;

●      Rapid testing and iteration to implement what works and go beyond the obvious solutions;

●      Combining the best understanding, ideas and expertise to generate collective knowledge;

●      Accelerating progress by bringing expertise, creativity and collective intelligence to bear.

Together with local actors, the Labs will identify grassroots solutions together with local actors and validate their potential to accelerate development. Building on the locally-sourced solutions, the labs will rapidly test and iterate new ideas to learn which ones work, which ones can grow, and which ones don’t, bringing experimentation to the core of development.

UNDP Accelerator Labs bring three competitive advantages to the development sector.

  1. Radically accelerated learning
  2. A greater breadth of solutions
  3. The ability to bridge to scale

What The Accelerator Lab Brings To The Country

Embedded in UNDP’s country office, Accelerator Labs are teams that provide national partners with a set of new services to better tackle complex sustainable development problems.The success of the Lab will be seen in three ways: influence of experimentation and acceleration on development programming, input into government policy, and spin-offs of Lab initiatives into independent ventures

Building The World’s Largest Learning Network on development Challenges

The Accelerator Labs are being created to reimagine development for the 21st century by tapping into the relationships, resources, and expertise of UNDP and its partners.

This will be the largest learning network focused on development challenges. 60 Lab teams, embedded in UNDP country offices, serving 78 countries will test new ways of partnering to address sustainable development challenges.

This capability will introduce new services, backed by evidence and practice, by accelerating the testing and dissemination of solutions within and across countries.

New Services To The Governments

The services provided by the Labs are a set of new approaches for addressing complex development issues.


Together with partners, the Labs will analyse, in almost real time, the local context challenges to identify connections and patterns to anticipate new avenues of work and act effectively to accelerate development.

Collective intelligence:

Collective intelligence is the ability of large groups and machines to think and act intelligently in a way that amounts to more than the sum of its parts.

The Labs will use collective intelligence to support partners, better understand facts and ideas, develop new solutions, promote more inclusive decision making, and provide better oversight of what is done.

A classic example of collective intelligence is Wikipedia, where for the last 20 years large groups of people engage in knowledge generation, replacing traditional encyclopaedia processes based on expert knowledge.

Solutions mapping:

Solutions mapping finds things that work and expands on them. The Accelerator Labs will identify local innovators who have already developed solutions for their own needs or those of their peers.

Solutions can come in many different forms, from a farmer discovering a new way to prevent floods to other grassroots innovations in health, energy or water management.

Instead of having external experts devise off-the-shelf solutions, the Labs will focus on identifying and promoting local solutions, as these are more likely to replicate and scale within society.

Together with local partners, the Labs will identify grassroots solutions and stretch their potential to accelerate development.

Designing and Testing

The Labs will simultaneously test approaches to tackle a singular complex development problem. This systematic process allows learning to happen in weeks or months rather than years.

Our Partners: Founding investors:

The Federal Republic of Germany, the State of Qatar, represented by the Qatar Fund for Development, and UNDP’s core partners are the founding investors of the Accelerator Lab Network.

Founding investors will co-build the Accelerator Lab Network as a joint venture.

Founding investors are part of our Strategic Advisory Group together with high impact members with in-depth experience in social innovation. The group will help shape the direction of the Lab Network.

Other partners:

Partners of the Accelerator Lab Network are the Italian Ministry of Environment and the Governments of the 78 countries that the Labs serve.

Knowledge partners:

Knowledge partners are institutions with niche expertise and data relevant to the Accelerator Labs who will benefit from insights into emergent demands in this area.

Knowledge partners of the Accelerator Labs Network are Nesta, a UK institution specialised in collective intelligence, and the Lead User Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


The objective is to build a network of Country Accelerator Labs as the largest, fastest global learning network on development challenges. The network will surface and reinforce locally sourced solutions at scale while mobilizing a wide and dynamic partnership of actors contributing knowledge, resources and experience.



January 2020


December 2022






United Nations Development Programme




Qatar Fund for Development







Full Project information