Le Lab: the Banque de France’s open innovation centre
Le Lab is responsible for steering the Banque de France’s innovation approach, matching needs and uses within the business lines with suitable technological solutions.
Created in 2017, and then scaled up in 2022, its role is to respond to the challenges of emerging technologies in a world undergoing profound change (rise of decentralised finance, tokenisation, crypto-assets, artificial intelligence). Thanks to its open innovation mindset, with its eye firmly focused on the future, Le Lab is helping to imagine and build the central bank of tomorrow.
Le Lab’s task is to identify potential innovations and experiment with concrete use cases to facilitate their implementation. It assists project teams throughout the Banque de France while also working in liaison with the broader innovation ecosystem. Le Lab’s approach is one of learning by doing, meaning that it prioritises practical work and hands-on experience to find solutions to problems and challenges.
Le Lab is a multidisciplinary hub that embodies the Banque de France’s approach to innovation. Located in Paris’s 2nd arrondissement, its premises have been specifically designed to facilitate ideation and experimentation. Its teams bring together a range of skills designed to complement each other, with technical experts surrounded by individuals from various different disciplines. Its goal is to “infuse” and “diffuse” a culture of innovation throughout the Banque de France and the financial sector and, more broadly, across the innovation ecosystem.
Le Lab focuses on cross-disciplinary subjects that are consistent with the Banque de France’s activities: finance and payments, supervision, economic research, relations with economic agents, etc.
As an open innovation centre, Le Lab steers the innovation approach set out in the Banque de France’s strategic plan, Building 2024 Together. In practice, the approach covers three strategic areas: cybersecurity, process digitalisation, and data exploitation together with artificial intelligence (AI). It concentrates on a core of priority technologies, including AI, blockchain, quantum technology, post-quantum cryptography and digital identity.
The approach has been translated into a roadmap of experiments, designed to accelerate the roll-out of innovations that will enhance the Banque de France’s activities and make its missions more effective.
The Banque de France seeks to innovate by working with its partners and by leveraging different skills and knowledge. To facilitate more direct dialogue with the innovation ecosystem, Le Lab has set up a platform targeted at students, start-ups, researchers and any other parties interested in innovation in the world of central banking. The site provides news and access to innovation-related events. It also regularly publishes calls for projects and contributions.
In particular, Le Lab organises regular masterclasses or Inco’Labs for students, covering topics as diverse as digital ID, transition risks and AI. The Banque de France also launches calls for projects on the latest technological issues via its platform, such as generative AI, digital ID and deep fakes.
The innovative projects coordinated by Le Lab are part of broader national and international collaborations.
The centre regularly takes part in international events, such as the Singapore FinTech Festival, while in 2023, the Banque de France partnered with Vivatech to present its innovation commitment and projects to start-ups and the general public.
Le Lab also works to establish different forms of partnership. The Banque de France participates in international cooperation initiatives within the framework of the Eurosystem, but also by hosting the Paris branch of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Eurosystem Innovation Hub Centre (the other branch is located in Frankfurt). Le Lab also signs direct agreements with other central banks to develop joint innovation projects. It notably signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on innovation with the Banca d’Italia in the autumn of 2023.
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