Public innovation labs have been showcased as key drivers of the much needed transformation of government and public service systems. But while there has been a proliferation of innovation labs and teams around the world, questions are being raised about their effectiveness. In some places it is even leading to their demise. What does the future of innovation labs look like? During this sessions, visiting representatives of some of the world's most exemplary Labs -such as the Lab de la Ciudad (Mexico), Helsinki Design Lab (Finland), Alberta CoLab (Canada) and MindLab (Denmark)- will reflect on the closure of the public innovation labs they ran, the possibilities and perils of experimentation from within government, what they would have changed if they could start all over again, and share the ideas that still live on in different forms.
With among others:
The event has the following (life) cycle:
- Fase 1: Death
Presentation by the former directors of three of the world´s most emblematic Labs on the demise, possibilities and perils of experimentation from within government. What would they have changed if they could start all over again? And how could Labs live on in different forms?
- Fase 2: Mourning
Reflection and discussion by international Lab’ers on the given presentations: which insights does death offer the living and the (re)born?
- Face 3: Birth
Presentation by the directors of three emerging Labs, each sharing one significant idea/ambition for and one big concern about the future of their labs.
- Fase 4: Life lessons (and rebirths)
Reflection and discussion by international Lab’ers on the given presentations: what are possible next steps and how can we avoid making the same mistakes?
The audience will be encouraged to react, interact and reflect throughout the event.
About the Labs and their (former) directors:
- Gabriella Gómez-Mont is the Founder of The Urban Task Force and former Director of the Laboratorio Para La Ciudad, Mexico City: the experimental arm/creative think tank of the Mexico City government, reporting to the Mayor. The Lab closed its doors in 2018. It was a place to reflect about urban issues and to explore alternative social scripts and urban futures for the largest megalopolis in the western hemisphere. The Lab worked across diverse areas, such as urban creativity, mobility, governance, civic tech, public space, creating links between civil society and government, while constantly changing its shape in order to accommodate multidisciplinary collaborations. Political and public imagination was at its center.
- Marco Steinberg is the Founder of Snowcone & Haystack and former Director of the Helsinki Design Lab, which closed in 2013. The Helsinki Design Lab aimed to make government leaders see the “architecture of problems” through strategic design-led policy, by assisting decision-makers to view challenges from a big-picture perspective, and provide guidance toward more complete solutions that consider all aspects of a problem.
- Andrea Siodmok is Director at the UK Policy Lab and was opened in 2014. The Lab was the first its kind in UK and is now an award-winning start-up in government, based in the Cabinet Office and seed-funded by the Policy Profession. The Lab works with policy teams to improve the ‘pace, quality and deliverability of policy in the Civil Service’, by supporting policy-makers across government with cutting-edge tools and practices, while working on key priorities such as homelessness, employment support and crime reduction, Andrea Siodmok explains.
- Stéphane Vincent is the Director of the La 27e Region, which conducts action-research programs to test new innovation methods for designing public policy involving all public stakeholders. It is neither a lab within a government, nor a private consultancy, but an independent non-profit that can be described as a think-and-do tank, a lab facilitator, a community of practitioners, a “public transformation lab”, explains Stéphane Vincent in Apolitical.
- Keren Perla, Director of the Alberta CoLab (Canada). Launched in 2014, the Alberta CoLab is one of the first Public and Social Innovation Labs in Canada: a permanent, standing design team within the Department of Energy of the City of Alberta. While the Alberta CoLab still continues to function as permanent government design team, Karen Perla explains, is has changed its focus and mandate dramatically: “at the height of our success, we went back to the drawing board to reimagine it all over again”. Since 2018, the Colab team became known as the Energy Transition and Policy Innovation unit.
- Juan Felipe López is the former director of the Laboratorio de Gobierno (LabGob) in Santiago de Chile. LabGob is formally established in 2015, on initiative of the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. It is a Lab that, in the words of Juan Felipe López, “primarily uses methods from human-centered design, open innovation, and ethnographic research… [with] a strong focus on people and understanding the user or citizen. We believe in co-creation and experimentation, and in taking a systemic approach to problem-solving.”
- Chelsea Mauldin is the executive director of the Public Policy Lab in New York City. Founded in 2011, the Lab starts from the vision that the government should offer public services that are powerful tools to help people improve their own individual well-being and prosperity. They are a non-profit organization, and work at the intersection of human-centered design and public policy: designing, prototyping and testing new services. Their client is the public, Chelsea explains, as “we really believe the public’s needs and aspirations should be the basis of policy and service-making.. [we are] committed to helping our government partners do their work in new ways”.
- Javier Eloy Guillot Landecker is the co-founder of The Equipo de Innovación Pública (EiP): the innovation team within the Colombian National Department of Planning (DNP), a ministry-level agency that supports policy development and evaluation across the entire government of Colombia. The team its role is that of an ‘enabler of experimentation’, as Javier describes it: “we have come to define our unit as a government ‘search-up’…: a team that gathers and shares evidence on processes, outputs and outcomes of public initiatives, based on an experimental mindset. We do this to foster collective learning and enable experimentation to happen more, and generate more public value, in government.”
- Cat Drew is the director of Policy & Place at FutureGov. FutureGov has been changing health and public sector organisations through digital transformation since 2008. They use design, technology and organisation development approaches to create public services fit for the 21st century. Cat previously worked at Policy Lab UK.
- Ellen van Bueren is professor of Urban Development Management at Delft Technological University & Principal Imvestigator at the Amsterdam AMS Institute. She is also co-author of the Urban Living Labs, A Living Lab Way of Working guide.