Can we develop a new set of behaviors, functions, and organizational designs that operate dynamically inside innovation systems in a parallel processing mode and support the co-evolution, rapid learning, and agility required to place environmental solutions in front of technological change (or, at least, parallel to it)?

  • understanding evolving business innovation ecosystemsfields
  • leveraging the ‘crowd’ - crowdsourcing, crowdfunding
  • participatory, networked governance, citizen science
  • horizon scanning and early warning systems for safety, health, and regulatory issues
  • improving decision making in dynamic, complex systems through games and simulations

New! Novel Entities. ELI prepared a background paper for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on “novel entities,” broadly defined as “things created and introduced into the environment by human beings that could have disruptive effects on the earth system.” These may include synthetic organic pollutants, radioactive materials, genetically modified organisms, nanomaterials, and/or micro-plastics. The report presents the results of a process developed to systematically identify novel entities that are relevant to the GEF. It then advises the GEF on how it might respond to the challenges and opportunities that they present. The process involved the identification of a broad range of novel entities, which were then narrowed  down to a group of those most pertinent to the work of the GEF. The report is available here.

Synthetic Biology in the United States: A Brief History of An Emerging Innovation System. Over the past two years, 75 new companies were created in the synthetic biology field in the United States, bringing the total to over 300. In 2015, synthetic biology startups attracted over $500 million globally in venture capital investments, and in 2016, this figure exceeded $1 billion. How did this happen? Read the report.

Brother(s) Can You Spare A Dime? Numbers from a 2015 study indicate that individuals invested a collective $34 billion in crowdfunding projects across 1,250 platforms worldwide, marking over a 100% increase from 2014, and a 1000% increase from the crowdfunding industry’s value in 2009. Projections from the World Bank and other sources indicate that global crowdfunding could reach $90 billion sometime between 2020 and 2025. What about crowdfunding environmental projects? We’ll share our findings in an upcoming report, so come back soon to learn more.

Cards Against CalamityCards Against Calamity: Coastal storms, marine debris, flooding, or any other possible troubles could bring economic or environmental disaster to an unprepared coastal community. “Cards Against Calamity” teaches stakeholders about the various strategies they can use to build a more resilient community as a means of “bouncing back and building beyond.” The game is won through cooperation, not competition, requiring players to role play community members in various sectors such as Commercial Fishing, Services, Industry, and Tourism and to negotiate plans that will both strengthen their community and each other. Created by 1st Playable in partnership with ELI and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the game received a gold ranking for table top learning games designed for education or training at the 2017 International Serious Play Awards. The board game is available for purchase here. NEW! We just released a free online version of the game. Start playing today and tell us what you think!  

Millennials Face Off with the Federal Budget. We downloaded and analyzed the results of almost 50,000 games from the national budget game, Fiscal Ship (, played over a 10-month period. Read what young people chose in terms of favorite policies and approaches to address climate change in the July-August 2017 issue of The Environmental Forum.

Citizen Science to Community Action. What laws and policies affect public decisionmakers’ ability to use and rely on information generated by citizen science projects? The report addresses how citizen science programs can be organized, conducted, and communicated to improve public decisions. In addition to analysis, the report compiles examples of citizen science projects in the United States that have produced changes in management decisions, enforcement actions, or the advancement of scientific knowledge useful to public officials.

The Future of Federal Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing: Strategic Recommendations for Advancing U.S. Federal Policies, Programs and Partnerships. Here is a set of 10 recommendations developed by Dave Rejeski and Elizabeth Tyson.  You can also download the poster.

Addressing Complexity with Playable Models. Can the rough equivalent of a “video game” provide the solution to understanding and addressing complexity, with implications for governance, public engagement, public policy, and journalism? Watch this video from WilsonNOW. For more, read the report.