The Ideas Lab is an interactive and free-thinking workshop that aims to bring together a unique mix of expertise from various disciplines to form teams that produce high quality research concepts. The emphasis is placed on a cross-disciplinary approach to foster new collaborations and bring new thinking to the problem encouraging innovative ways of problem-solving. This highly innovative method encourages the co-operative generation of new ideas and will open possibilities for completely new research constellations and boundary- spanning activities.

During the Ideas Lab, a selected group of scientists from a diverse range of disciplines and different career levels come together to immerse themselves in an inspiring collaborative thinking process. In this creative environment, the Ideas Lab facilitates the formation of interdisciplinary research teams around innovative research concepts. The Ideas Lab aims to enable the selected team performing interdisciplinary research that has a strong societal benefit, potentially taking revolutionary approaches to the complex challenges.

The Ideas Lab is a very effective approach to bringing people together that don’t normally interact, catalyzing and developing new research ideas. It develops interactions between diverse groups of researchers and stakeholders, leading to the formation of sustainable networks. It also stimulates highly innovative and more risk-accepting research activities that encourage working and thinking differently. This cross-disciplinary approach fosters new collaborations and brings new thinking to the problem, encouraging innovative ways of problem-solving."
Raphaela Kaisler
Liaison Officer Mental Health and Program Manager Ideas Lab

mental health ideas lab

The Ideas Lab on Mental Health of Children and Adolescents focused on “Children of mentally ill parents”. It served as a catalyst to help scientists from various disciplines to generate research proposals within the scope of one or more of the research challenges identified by the community. The Ideas Lab took place near Vienna, Austria, from May 24 - 28, 2017, inviting 30 researchers to participate in the workshop and find innovative approaches to the complex challenges of children of mentally ill parents.

The ideas Lab was powered by Knowinnovation.

Children of mentally ill parents

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Mental health research groups

As a result of the Mental Health Ideas Lab, two Research Groups and their proposed research concepts were funded with a budget of 3 million euros for a period  four years (2018-2021).


Social connectedness in adolescents is an important protective factor for health. Adolescent children of parents with mental illness (COPMI) are at risk of poor social connectedness, especially in periods of school transition. In COPMI and non-COPMI early adolescents, we seek to 

  • understand mechanisms of social connectedness
  • improve social connectedness by enhancing social-emotional skills and appropriate peer connections through a digital hub
  • tailor the hub to maximize each individuals’ gains,
  • facilitate related positive outcomes, such as reductions in stigma via opportunity for positive COPMI-non-COPMI contact. 

Profound literature reviews and ongoing stakeholder and expert consultation will guide the design of a blended intervention comprising the online hub housing digital experiences and peer matching, and complementary school/service-based social wellbeing program.

A pilot evaluation will test the intervention acceptability, feasibility and processes of changes, and explore the efficacy of the hub in two versions, i.e. standard and an individually adaptive mode.


Children of parents with mental illness (COPMI) are more likely to experience negative long-term outcomes, and are less likely to get the support they need to lead a healthy and happy life. This also results in substantial lifelong costs for governments and wider society. The proposed project seeks to break the cycle of transgenerational transmission of poor (mental) health, and improve child development and quality of life in Austria. This will be achieved through development, implementation and evaluation of two practice approaches, focused on the "child's voice" and on principles of collaborative care. The first is the identification of COPMI (who are often invisible in current systems of care),  the second the strengthening of informal and formal support networks around the child. The research is thus concerned with changing and improving current practice, as well as improving knowledge of what works, for whom, under which conditions, and why.

A special feature of this endeavor is the involvement of stakeholders, who, as experts by virtue of their experience, provide an essential contribution to the research and application of results. The Research Groups do more than address the need for the early support for children and adolescents who have parents with mental illness; through the multi-professional approach and sensitization of the community, it also helps destigmatize mental illness. The Research Groups are supported by a Liaison Officer (Raphaela Kaisler), who connects them to engage with stakeholders, thus building a strong tie with the community. 

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