“The Niche from the Future” – A card game for investments in transformation


A while ago, we launched “The Niche from the Future”, a fun and accessible card game that helps players to imagine and invest in desirable futures using conceptualisations from Deep Transitions. Today, we share first reflections from play testing the game with the members of our Global Investors Panel.

To recap: in the game, players compete to come up with the most thought-provoking and imaginative niches that could function in our three future world scenarios. Each round, a set of cards specifies the kind of future in which the niche exists, outlines the socio-technical system it belongs to, describes the type of object that it is, and suggests a quality for generating positive impact. Players must then each write a short description of a niche that fits the constraints of the prompt. After voting, the winning niche is pitched to a mixed, non-traditional audience of investors.

“The Niche from the Future” aims to be a playful and social experience that gives our panellists the opportunity to engage with the three future worlds in a new, creative way. By sparking their active imagination, it encourages a closer connection and ownership of each world and a more concrete idea of which niches could form part of it. Thanks to a curated variety of challenging prompts, the game might even serve as a useful tool for brainstorming and discovering transformative niches to invest in. Finally, the concluding round offers a taste of how investors might pitch in the three future worlds – helping to make the creation of a new investment philosophy feel like a more real and tangible goal.

So far, the game has been enjoyed as a pastime by our research team and panellists, as well as collectively in the most recent investor panel session. An online ‘blitz’ version challenged participants to let go of the constraints of the present by creating and pitching their own imagined niches against each other in less than 30m. Each of the three participant groups competing received a unique prompt – and of course the audience pitched to was unusual in itself (an urban fox, a risk taking investor, someone born this year). 

The three winning transformative niches the panellists came up with included:  

  1. A new local ecology based on an e-platform that connects chefs with local farmers, teaches school children how to home-grow vegetables and provides an emission free delivery system.

2. A restaurant that employs new levels of transparency by displaying whether meals are within the planetary boundaries, including where ingredients come from and how leftovers will be processed. 

3. A medical device that allows humans to regenerate the amount of water needed to sustain organism systems and thus lets them move towards being entirely self-sufficient.

The third “niche from the future” was voted to be the winner by the pitching audience and will be brought to life in a creative way during the face-to-face meeting in Utrecht this summer. 

Overall, we were impressed by the wide range of ideas on display through each imagined niche, by the enthusiasm with which the investor panel committed to exploring their futures, and by the fun and creativity they sparked in such a short amount of time. We hope to employ and enjoy “The Niche from the Future” in many more contexts as we continue the journey of bringing its desirable worlds closer to reality

If you would like to learn more about the “Niche from the Future” game and would be interested  in play testing it with us, please send an email to deeptransitions@uu.nl.