The Decentralized Development Lab

A twelve-month incubation and acceleration program


How can actors from decentralized levels of state such as cities, districts and regions join forces and create synergies across countries to find innovative solutions to sustainable development challenges?

To address this question, the Decentralized Development Lab was created, which includes a twelve-month incubation and acceleration program, offering teams from different countries coaching, training, expert exchange, and financial support to develop solutions and maximize social impact for specific challenges.
The Decentralized Development Lab (DDLab) has been developed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the “Bund-Länder-Programm – German Government and Federal States Program (BLP).” The project is implemented in collaboration with external partners.

As the Lab is about to start its next phase, we are looking now for you to contribute your expertise, experience and creative energy in tackling those challenges and to enter our Call for Ideas! For five weeks, you have the opportunity to dive into our diverse and creative community, join forces together and co-create and to submit your ideas. At the end of the Call for Ideas, one idea for each of the four challenges will be awarded a grant for a five-month incubator program from all entries.

What are your benefits?

  • Technical and financial support equivalent of up to 50,000€ for your team and the chance to win a follow-up package worth up to 200,000€.
  • Access to an international network of subject matter experts, agile coaches, public and social innovators and creative minds
  • Accompanying events and workshops to connect and co-create with other idea providers
  • 1-on-1 coaching, curated tools and content to support your journey through the Decentralized Development Lab

The challenges

Representatives from the German federal states and their partner countries have submitted numerous development challenges as part of an international Call for Challenges. Four of which were selected to be addressed in the Decentralized Development Lab.

  • E-Mobility Solutions
    How might we attract (public and private) investments in e-bus infrastructure and vehicles?
  • Mangrove-friendly Aquaculture
    How might aquaculture become mangrove-friendly, and how might smallholders get involved in the development?
  • Rural Female Entrepreneurship
    How might we untap the potential of female entrepreneurship for the green and the digital future of rural regions?
  • Inclusive Digitalization
    How might we make active citizen participation inclusive for silent groups by involving them in the development of suitable solutions like One-Stop Shops?


Who is it for?

We are looking for individuals and gender-diverse teams with various backgrounds and experiences who can contribute their expertise and creative energy to one of the four challenges. At this early stage, it is more important that we create strong teams than having your ideas fully elaborated yet.

  • Social and public innovators, social entrepreneurs, innovative start-ups and socially oriented small and micro enterprises
  • Experts for topics that are related to the challenges: Researchers & PhDs, research institutions and associations, universities and colleges
  • Governmental and quasi-governmental institutions
  • Experts for new technologies, programmers and digital entrepreneurs

The Decentralized Development Lab

The Decentralized Development Lab


January 9, 2022
Organizer GIZ
Website Visit website
Targets Indonesia, Peru, Rwanda, Ukraine
Clean technology, Clean technology and energy, Connectivity, Diversified services, Electric utilities, Fish farming, ICT, Public transport, Water utilities