Economic Immigration Lab


The Challenge

New Brunswick is currently facing the double threat of an aging and shrinking population, which has led to a significant shortage of skilled workers in our province. There are over 3,200 unfilled jobs listed on and by 2032, there will be one retiree for every person earning income in New Brunswick. This imbalance not only puts a significant strain on our social services, but inhibits the potential for New Brunswick businesses to grow and compete in national and global economies.

Our Solution

Our solution is to work with employers, municipalities, community leaders, and the provincial and federal government to help position New Brunswick as a place of opportunity for skilled foreign workers. Every 1,000 new immigrant families that settle in New Brunswick with an average household income creates 50 million dollars in new consumer spending for the province. We have the jobs but lack the skilled workers to fill them. We have the social services, but the declining population will begin to put a burden on the tax base in New Brunswick. Luckily, we also have the foresight to know that growing our population will only be good for all of us.

How, then, might we become leaders at attracting, welcoming and retaining newcomers to the New Brunswick Economy?

How might we help newcomers to find meaningful employment and to feel part of the NB community?

How might we help employers find talent to grow their businesses?

We propose to work with key stakeholders in New Brunswick on this very question, and we invite you to join us.

The Lab Approach


Many challenges we face today are complex and systemic, with no one clear cause or trigger. Indeed, unpacking how we might become leaders at attracting, welcoming and retaining newcomers to grow the New Brunswick economy has no clear one size fits all answer. A social lab is a multi-faceted approach that involves facilitated processes to help anybody - from individuals to multi-stakeholder groups - address complex problems, such as Economic Immigration. Social labs are, by nature, social, experimental and systemic.

They are social.

Social labs start by bringing together diverse stakeholders to work in a team that acts collectively. Participants are drawn from different sectors of society such as government, business and the community. The participation of diverse stakeholders with various different interests in the challenge, as opposed to teams of experts, defines the social nature of social labs.

They are experimental.

Social labs are not one-off experiences, but ongoing and sustained efforts. The lab team takes an iterative approach to the challenges it wants to address—prototyping and testing interventions, incorporating feedback, and managing a portfolio of promising solutions.

They are systemic.

The ideas and initiatives developed in social labs go beyond dealing with just the symptoms of an issue, but instead address the root causes of why things aren’t working.

Social issues are collective action problems where some form of capital is found wanting or being depleted. In a challenge like population decline and immigration retention, we see a decline in multiple forms of capital - social, financial and cultural - for example: lack of labour to fill labour needs, reduction in new business, reduction in tax base for municipalities, reduced population in schools, etc.

Successful social labs can re-generate these different forms of capital in order to address the most complex challenges.

Noulab process



Participants in the Economic Immigration Lab will:

Have a seat at the table to share their experience with the issue

  • Develop cross sector relationships
  • Make connections with the right people to create change

  • Prototype potential solutions

  • Contribute to create the change that is critical to NB’s future prosperity

  • Gain professional development experience in an innovative lab approach

In order for any social lab to be successful, it is imperative that it includes a diverse cross-section of participants. We’re looking for people who recognize that

a) we could improve our attraction and retention of newcomers to the region and,

b) that our current approach to addressing this challenge is not working. Ideally, lab participants would have first hand experience with the issue of immigration recruitment and retention from the perspective of an employer, a newcomer, settlement agency staff, municipal staff, and/or civil servants with the provincial or federal government.

The Commitment


Social labs are iterative processes, and they need to be in order to succeed. By submitting an application, you are committing to:

a) 15 days working on the challenge. This includes 8 full day workshops between September and December 2017 (dates provided below);
b) Attend virtual coaching sessions with leading experts in social innovation; and
c) Work collaboratively with a diverse group of stakeholders

Workshop schedule: September 25-27, October 17-18, November 6-7, December 4-5


We want this lab to happen for the right reasons and with the right people in the room. We want to ensure that there is no barrier to joining us and contributing your valuable knowledge, skills and perspective. Included in your lab experience is quality facilitation, food, venue, materials, coaching, mentorship, and prototype seed funding.  Participants (and/or their organisations) will be expected to contribute their time (see above) and cover their travel costs to and from workshops.

If you or your organization are Interested in sponsoring the Economic Immigration Lab contact

Return on Investment

  • Have a seat at the table to share their experience with the issue
  • Develop cross sector relationships
  • Make connections with the right people to create change
  • Prototype potential solutions
  • Contribute to create the change that is critical to NB’s future prosperity
  • Gain professional development experience in an innovative lab approach

WHy get involved?

New Brunswick is at a crossroads and we need to come together to imagine and define the kind of place we want it to be. The Economic Immigration Lab is an opportunity to create real, lasting impact on the lives, culture and economy of New Brunswick. For your business or organization, it’s an opportunity to get input and work with other creative minds on your most pressing immigration/integration/employment challenges. It’s the opportunity to be guided through an experiential change process, and to learn the transferable skills of social labs and systemic change methodologies. It’s a contribution to your community, your corporate social responsibility and the future of all New Brunswickers.

Facilitation team

NouLAB is New Brunswick’s public and social innovation lab. We help the public and innovators act together to address our most pressing social, environmental, and economic challenges. By connecting change agents from across sectors, convening them around pressing issues, and facilitating their journey to deep change, NouLAB is making the change process smarter.


The lab process is just the beginning. It’s an incubator for ideas to seed and grow and a place to debrief those ideas once they’ve been put into action. But the ideas can’t stay in the lab. We need to take them out into the world, test them, perhaps fail, and begin again. That’s why it’s important to have your team on board, whether that’s your employers, your employees or your community. You’ll need to have support when we begin the prototyping phase.

Facilitation Pic.jpg


NouLAB's commitment to bilingualism.

All written materials will be offered in both English and French and the local facilitation team is bilingual.  Workshops will be bilingual where possible, however there will be guest facilitators operating only in English.  The interactive nature of the program is not suited for simultaneous translation, however, your group work will be in your language of choice and local facilitators will be on site to offer support.