The EFA23 Labs

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1 Aug, 2023


Curated groups work together for three days: They develop new ideas and innovative approaches on specific topics. A high level of expertise and professional guidance make Lab participants dive deep, co-create and build networks for future action.

The EFA Labs are designed to create interdisciplinary communities for a strong and democratic Europe. Taking place in form of a closed and well-selected group, each Lab consists of various participants who contribute their knowledge and in turn benefit from the expertise of their peers. Together they envision solutions to a pre-defined issue along one of the four thematic tracks of the European Forum Alpbach. Persons from diverse fields of activity are chosen by the EFA and its partner organisations: policy makers, scientists, civil society, business – to name but a few. A Lab’s broad team composition allows for tackling important questions from different perspectives, resulting in cross-cutting alliances. A Lab’s goal is laying the foundations for strategic cooperation and a joint process that takes effect far beyond the EFA event.

In every Lab 30 to 40 experts work on their respective topic with innovative methods and facilitation. These are key to a Lab’s outcome, always setting the course for a Bold Europe.

See what this year’s Labs will cover:

Hackathon on Financial and Economic Literacy

The MEGA Hackathon fosters financial and economic literacy among Europe's youth, considering technology, sustainability, and innovation. It strengthens the young generations, who often have limited financial knowledge and engage in risky behavior. How can we effectively promote financial literacy among teenagers, especially among those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds? How can we integrate financial education into lifelong learning and address the growing social inequality in our societies?

In cooperation with MEGA Bildungsstiftung and Liechtenstein Group, this Lab brings together international experts to collaborate, for example Tatjana Lattorff (Fürst Liechtenstein Philanthropie Foundation), Johannes Meran (Liechtenstein Group), and Katharina Meyer (OECD). The projects to be developed include financial literacy coachings, workshops for sustainable business practices and mentoring programmes for entrepreneurship. Facilitated by Matthias Strolz, the Hackathon offers growth capital (5,000 Euro each) and access to the MEGA growth accelerator for the two best projects.

360° University Spin offs Lab

The process of spinning out companies from academia is still often murky. Various parties – founders, faculty, universities, investors – need to be aligned to make this process smoother. In the end, all of these parties share the common goal of building great companies. Even though interests sometimes diverge on a granular level, a lot of friction comes from misunderstandings, selective information and wrong expectations – and is thus avoidable. The core objective of this Lab is to reduce this friction.

In cooperation with xista and under the guidance of Markus Wanko, Alexander Schwartz (both Managing Partners at xista), and Barbara Heitger, this Lab’s international group will consist of academics, spin-off founders, venture capitalists and industry people. They aim to deliver a white paper on spin-offs’ core principles, taking into account the objectives of relevant stakeholders in the process.

Boosting the Entrepreneurial Growth Cycle – through Capital Markets

Participants will discuss European capital markets along the financing cycle of companies. They explore the journey of a European company from birth to maturity. Why have some countries fared better than others? What could be the role of deeper and broader capital markets? What are the main factors holding us back? Each day will kick off with an overview of the horizontal questions considered important for the topic of the day. This structure provides the background for a look into the existing best and worst practices, aiming for conclusions for economic and policy recommendations. The first day is about stock options. The second day is about how to mobilise financial resources for innovation. Last but not least, the third day focuses on financing of traditional corporate companies.

In cooperation with ERSTE Foundation, this Lab group will bring together the thought leadership of participants such as Alois Flatz (Member of the Supervisory Board of Erste Group Bank AG), Birgit Niessner (Director of Economic Analysis and Research Department at OeNB) or Michael Pistauer (Co-CEO of Montana Aerospace).

10x100 Cities Lab

Given their unique infrastructural identity, cities can become transformation zones that create insights on how to adapt current regulatory and financial mechanisms. Due to the bio-material-energy limitations, cities as human settlements need to be rearranged within existing environments in order to limit planetary consequences. Facing the dynamics of the current polycrisis, the transformation of urban food systems is crucial for human survival. The Lab’s will elaborate suggestions for decisionmakers at communal, regional, national, and European level to unlock the transformative power of metropolitan areas. This Lab is part of a multi-year community initiative and develops the foundations for systemic agency in a new risk era.

In cooperation with Dark Matter Labs, Politics for Tomorrow, the Global Parliament of Mayors and the City of Mannheim and under the guidance of Caroline Paulick-Thiel (Director of Politics for Tomorrow), Indy Johar (Founding Director of Dark Matter Labs), and Peter Kurz (Chair of the Global Parliament of Mayors), an interdisciplinary group of experts and thought leaders such as Alexandr Hobza (Chief Economist at the Common R&I Strategy & Foresight Service of the European Commission), Anja Katalin Decunto (Team Leader Food at Eurocities), Anna Sobczak (Policy Coordinator for EU Coal Regions in Transition at the Directorate-General for Energy of the European Commission), Kirsten Dunlop (CEO of EIT Climate-KIC) and Ralph Thurm (Managing Director of r3.0) will collaborate in this Lab.

Reimagining Politics – Delivering on Gender Representation in Political Leadership

Building on the community of action created in last year’s Lab, participants are invited to work on an understanding of political leadership that is representative, intersectional and impact-driven. Grassroots actors, as well as local, national and international actors gather for a collective effort and explore what works and what does not work to increase gender parity in politics at all levels of political representation in Europe. The goal is to find new ways to more quickly close the gender gap and look at approaches to support female political leaders and create a community of solidarity.

In cooperation with the Apolitical and Multitudes Foundations and by the facilitation of their representatives, this Lab brings together a diverse field of actors from young and experienced politicians to candidates and party leaders, as well as to political innovators and funders of this cause, including local Councilor Jana Degrott, MEP Anna Donáth, Seyi Akiwowo (Founder of Glitch) and Johanna Mair (Professor at Hertie School).

After the War: Rebuilding and Reuniting Ukrainian State and Society

Since 2014, Ukraine has experienced a profound transformation of its social structure, national identity, and political system. A revolutionary and ambitious process to secure a longer-term democratic consolidation and political stability continued over the years and intensified with the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression. This Lab analyses these processes and develops scenarios for post-war Ukraine, aiming to draft policy recommendations regarding the non-economic aspects of reconstruction, such as state structures and social bonds. The Lab will also discuss prospects for reintegrating the occupied territories and reuniting the Ukrainian society with people who have lived in these areas since 2014.

In cooperation with the European Council of Foreign Relations (ECFR) experts such as Marie Dumoulin (Director Wider Europe Programme at the ECFR) and Stefan Meister (Head of the Center for Order and Governance in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia at the German Council on Foreign Relations), and policymakers such as Dmytro Natalukha (Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Ukraine) and Eamon Gilmore (EU Special Representative for Human Rights) will address the impact of the war on Ukrainian nation-building as well as on state-society relations.

Youth as Key for Democratic Renewal – Impacting European Elections

The democratic deficit in times of digital transformation, green transition and disinformation will be one of the key issues for the legitimacy of the EU and its democracy in the future. All of the EU’s strategic goals aim at the “future”, and some new EU instruments are labelled for the “next generation”. So, who is this next generation? Who is the future? Who is the youth that will vote for the first time in the 2024 EU elections – after a pandemic and the war in Ukraine? What does democracy mean for this next generation? What motivates them to engage in political activity and processes?

In cooperation and with expert facilitation organised by the ERSTE Foundation, this Lab will jointly focus on aswers to these questions, together with democratic participation experts, social entrepreneurs and youth representatives. These include Ivana Dragicevic (N1 Television), futurist Regina Joseph, Alberto Alemanno (The Good Lobby), Marko Filipović (Mayor of Rijeka), and many European youth network representatives, including Europe101 fellows.

Civic Foresight – Anticipating and Counteracting Disruptions of Democracy

Europe’s civic space has repeatedly come under pressure and been assaulted by authoritarian and populist forces, amplified by social networks and a growing distrust towards the traditional institutions of democracy. Various responses – be it from politics to legislation and civil society – have followed suit. But since its inception, the Union has been criticised for reacting rather than pre-emptively acting on crises. Is it possible to develop the habit and the skills, instruments, and policies to predict threats to democracy and civility in Europe? What does it take to anticipate disruptions and equip people at the frontlines with the skills to tackle them? This Lab provides a space to commonly learn how to enhance democratic resilience through building bottom-up preparedness for upcoming disruption, in order to strengthen future literacy in local communities and in microcosms.

In cooperation with CIVICS Innovation Hub, Visegrad Insight, NECE Labs, the German Marshall Fund of the United States and under the lead facilitation of Wojciech Przybylski (Visegrad Insight) and civic education expertise from The Civics, the Lab convenes a broad range of actors from all over Europe, among them Hortensia Völckers (Kulturstiftung des Bundes), Seema Shah (International Idea), Elena Calistru (Funky Citizens), Goran Buldioski (Open Society Foundations), and NECE network.

Data Sovereignty – Ensuring Agency and Control in the Digital Space – for Individuals, Companies, Societies and States

The concept of sovereignty in a digital world must be reframed as a cross-cutting task for society. Against the background of current dependencies on global IT market leaders from other countries, or even monopoly platforms with global broadband infrastructures and the associated huge agglomeration of data, it is essential to clarify the ethical values, principles, rules and laws that govern the exchange, processing and the targeted use of data. This Lab will discuss the conditions for the emergence of a sustainable and globally competitive European data economy. The status of developments and roadmaps will be assessed, exploring concepts, specifications and available open source software and services in relation to the impact of misuse of data and AI. The fight against fake news, disinformation and conspiracy theories will be used as an example.

In cooperation with AIT – Austrian Institute of Technology, distinguished experts, such as Reinhard Altenburger (Institute for Business Administration and Management of the IMC Fachhochschule Krems), Tünde Fülöp (Research Institute Austria), Katarina Klingova (Centre for Democracy and Resilience at GLOBSEC), and Roland Fadrany (Gaia-X European Association for Data and Cloud) will address the threats we face as well as the effective AI tools which are essential for protecting democracy and freedom.

Alpbach in Motion 2023 – The EFA Leadership Lab

As part of the European Forum Alpbach, Alpbach in Motion (AIM) is a Lab for up to 40 outstanding professionals between the ages 30 to 40, who are willing to shape and transform Europe.

Since 10 years, the most committed young business leaders, changemakers, policymakers, scientists, artists, activists, and more, commit to a one-of-a-kind leadership experience. By stimulating peer-to-peer learning and out-of-the-box solutions, Alpbach in Motion creates a space for the emergence of reflection and action. In line with the European Forum Alpbach mission to shape a stronger Europe for the good of all, Alpbach in Motion takes place from 24 to 27 August 2023 and encourages its professionals to facilitate change in their industries, ecosystems and the broader social context.

The mentors of this year's AIM23 cohort are Manuel Güll (Impact - Purpose - New Work) and Elsabeth van Overbeeke (ForChiefs Alliance e.V.s).

More information HERE.