NAEC Innovation LAB - New Approaches to a Complex World

Implementing new approaches to economic challenges requires new tools and techniques to make sense of a wide range of economic and social phenomena. Digital innovation is opening up new possibilities for data generation and policy analysis that need to be explored and mastered. The aim of the NAEC Innovation LAB, co-ordinated by the NAEC Unit and the Office of the Chief Economist, is to encourage the adoption of new and innovative analytical methods across the Organisation to address new policy questions and bring new policy insights. It will help to continuously review and upgrade the OECD’s analytical capabilities, promote co-operation across the organisation as well as provide a platform to engage with broader research communities.



Objectives of the NAEC Innovation LAB

The aim of the NAEC Innovation LAB is to provide a space for researchers across the OECD to work together on specific projects that apply and experiment with new analytical tools and techniques so as to diversify and strengthen the OECD’s analytical tools. Ideas and approaches emerging from the NAEC initiative can be tested and assessed further to demonstrate their value and policy relevance. Some Directorates are already undertaking small-scale “sand box” projects but these efforts require support. The LAB can facilitate this by providing cross-fertilisation, scale and incubation.

The background to the NAEC Innovation LAB, its objectives and aims, its design and what it will do is outlined in the NAEC Innovation LAB brochure and the NAEC Innovation LAB blueprint

Design of the NAEC Innovation LAB

The NAEC Innovation LAB operates in a dynamic, open and flexible way within the OECD framework. It is supported jointly by: the Chief of Staff through the NAEC team; the Economics Department through the Chief Economist’s Office; and Statistics and Data Division through the Chief Statistician. Individual LAB projects contribute to the work of the corresponding Committees, while the Economic Policy Committee (EPC), the Committee on Statistics and Statistics Policy (CSSP) and the NAEC Group play a role in ensuring the robustness and policy-relevance of the work of the LAB. The LAB work is primarily driven by projects principally funded by Directorates in support of their work with the goal that the LAB would encourage greater innovation, whether through large-scale projects or small-scale work.

It plays a facilitating role to incubate and connect projects in Directorates, drawing on new tools to take new approaches to policy challenges. The LAB involves a core team of researchers working together on projects. As associates of the LAB, these researchers share approaches and build common understanding. The projects and the researchers are primarily supported by Directorates, ensuring that they are part of the mainstream of Directorates and Committee work. Directorates are encouraged to undertake projects that could be associated with the LAB.

Activities of the NAEC Innovation LAB

Working with OECD directorates the NAEC Innovation LAB is supporting the following activities:

  • Using agent-based modelling (ABM) to analyse financial interactions and network effects in the global economy based on a stylised representation of the financial system and the behaviour of key agents. This would highlight policy spillovers and show how policies and institutions affect resilience.

  • Using machine-learning techniques to improve short-term macroeconomic nowcasting/forecasting, and to understand the non-linear interactions between growth-enhancing policies and inclusive growth outcomes, allowing for rich interactions between policies and with country circumstances. This opens the way to give model-based policy advice that is more country specific.

  • Using big data approaches to understand how prices are being affected by technological change and exposure through trade and global value chains with implications for well-being and policy.

See the full list of NAEC Innovation LAB Workshops and Seminars