What this Lab does is measure your achievements, and open up areas of improvement for your Buildings and fleets, Based off things that you use, allowing for adaptations.
An example is lets say you have oil rigs, and they mine and mine. Lets say it allows you to put a standard forsaken base defense on one. (sentinel or something like that).
Lets say you kill 1,000 ships using stalkers, and the option to upgrade a stalker to a stalker class A. lets say you get another 1,000 kills it offers up 10% bonus against torpedo's, to any stalker of your choice. you would need to build the upgrade at the ship yard. The next 1,000 kill upgrade might be 5 seconds longer below water of the base stat. Possible even things like engines 4-6, nautilus battery 4-6.
You might get things you do not need or want, like lets say you have 5 FF A, you may get as a reward turn an FF to an FF A. Than again might get to turn an FF A into an FF B, when you get to around 50k kills, might get an FF C option. You will not get items from ships you do not use for example if you have no sea wolves, don't use them, wont get upgrades for them.
Lets say your base is pillaged constantly... the more your defenses are broke down the more options you get, for example level 7-9 wall. so for example if you mortar an enemy base and wipe it all out consciously, what will happen is they will start getting advanced wall, or wall resistant to mortars. Slowing the enemy up. possibly even killing the enemy fleet.
You still pay resources, and uranium in some instances, for these upgrades. It would stick to forsaken technology, unless they wanted to have a reaver and Drac lab, which I would suggest allow only 1 type per player base. You can in theory have around 20-50 upgrades on a ship type, so it would keep things interesting.
The alternative is have ship upgrades, off points that ship class has accomplished. Obviously jumping up to a new class costs more than 5% missile protection.
The basic idea is allow what players have to get better, and advanced, so an old fleet will possibly be upgraded, to another tier. Most likely these upgrades will need the shipyard, I doubt they would allow it to be done at the lab.