Why We are Relaunching our Innovation Lab

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អត្ថបទ​នេះមានជាភាសា៖ kmខ្មែរ


By Jesse Orndorff

Innovation Program Manager
Development Innovations

Today we are celebrating the “relaunch” of our innovation lab at Development Innovations. For the past few months, our team has been hard at work reimagining what a new lab space could offer civil society in Phnom Penh.

Two and a half years ago we launched our 5D Lab, a co-working space designed to promote engagement between Cambodian civil society organizations (CSOs), the tech community, and private-sector businesses. At the time, our co-working space was a needed resource in the community, but over the last two years the co-working options in Phnom Penh have grown dramatically. Phnom Penh now has six unique co-working communities that are focused on creating spaces that meet the needs of the different tech, business, and CSO communities across the city. In April this year we made the decision to close down our co-working space and connect people to the other resources around the city. At the same time, we wanted to focus on the needs of our key partners, and we talked with them about what services they needed most. From this, we reimagined what our lab space could offer the CSO community.

An innovation lab designed for service

Innovation Labs are not a new concept in international development. UNICEF has been doing amazing work with their network of Innovation Labs around the world. USAID has been working, through their Feed the Future program, to imbed Innovation Labs within universities to help provide research and resources to the local agriculture communities. And in Cambodia, InSTEDD’s iLab Southeast Asia was one of the first innovation labs focused on collaborative technology tools for social good. When you visit these different labs around the world, you’ll notice that none of them are designed, or run, the exact same way. They all have different focuses, frameworks, sectors, or technologies they work with. They are tools to help engage people. And just like the other Innovation Labs around the world, The Lab at DI is different.


The Lab at DI has been designed to provide basic technology services to the civil society community. Our aim with this new Innovation Lab is to help demystify technology, while also providing support and training to CSOs looking to use technology in their work.

So how are we doing this?

1. Exposing CSOs to available technology

We realized that we cannot expect CSOs in Cambodia, some of whom are just starting to test if technology is right for their work, to have a complete understanding of all of the technology tools available to them. Our first focus is to help expose any interested CSO to some technologies that are available for their work, and give them a chance to see and demo what has been tested, built and re-built in Cambodia.

Our lab features a small, hands-on demo area where our team can show you some of the work our partners have done, and show you other technologies that are used today in the Cambodian market.


2. Provide technology coaching for in-demand technology topics

After working with more than 20 grantees, hundreds of other CSOs through events and trainings, and providing over 185 coaching sessions, we learned that we needed to refine our offering to focus on the current gaps in the ever-changing Cambodian technology market. Looking at our most in-demand services, we determined that video, social media, and technology project design were all areas that the CSO community were most excited about.

The Lab at DI has a team of three Cambodian technology coaches providing services. These coaches are subject matter experts in their respected topics, and understand the challenges Cambodia’s civil society organizations face. From understanding what you need to create a video, to defining your social media audience, to developing a technology plan for your project, our coaches can help you. To set up a meeting with us you can book online, or call us at: 095 702 008

3. Offer a basic, hands-on, 3-day technology training course

The third type of service our lab provides is basic hands-on training courses designed for CSOs. Currently, we offer a very popular basic video production course, one of the most popular and accessible ICTs in Cambodia. These courses are designed to introduce users to the core concepts and a provide a strong baseline understanding of the technologies.

Our basic video course teaches students how to define their audience, create a compelling story, how to conduct an interview, organize a hands-on shooting day, and manage a full day of video editing. In the end, students will have produced a two minute video that they can use in their organization, whether to promote their activities, or a key message.

We are currently testing our social media course, but based on the work we’ve done with one of our long-term partners, CCC, we want the course to focus on: social media guidelines, basic Facebook usage for CSOs, developing a simple and easy-to-manage social media strategy, and promoting your activities using social media.

Each of these training courses will be available every month starting in October. A three-day course is $100 for individuals, or $500 for a team (maximum 10 people). If you’re interested, you can book online here, or call our coaching team at: 095 702 008

A creative space for service delivery

We are testing a new concept with our Innovation Lab. Can we make a creative space that can help civil society think differently about the work they do? Our innovation lab looks very different than most traditional Cambodian offices. We have installed a large fake grass area, bean bag chairs, a plant wall, and a massive wall photo of a Cambodian forest. We also commissioned a Cambodian artist to paint a mural on one of our walls.

Why did we do this?
We envisioned a space that attracts people to it. A space that makes you stop and take time to think about your work and the people you are trying to serve. It is in this type of creative space that our coaches can really help you.

We invite you to come join us and check out these services. Come sit in our green space with our coaches, enjoy the views of the forest while working on your social media strategy, and try out the various Cambodian-built technologies available to you from our comfortable bean bag chairs. Maybe you’ll dream up a new solution for yourself.