Launching “staatslabor” in Switzerland

Many governments feel the need to make their policymaking more responsive to citizens’ needs. Governments have always been struggling with this, but given the events of the past months this problem has acquired added urgency.

A partial answer to this challenge is “government innovation”. The world around is changing, surely governments and public administrations need to change too. But how? “Go innovate” is not a helpful instruction to give to anyone.

Around the world “government innovation labs” have emerged as an answer to the question of how governments might innovate. These “labs” help their public administrations find new insights into problems which, for whatever reason, the regular policymaking process wasn’t able to find a satisfactory answer to.

These “labs” come in all shapes and sizes. Some are situated inside government (like the UK’s Policy Lab or Denmark’s MindLab) while others work alongside government (such as Canada’s MaRS Solutions Lab or Australia’s TACSI).

What they all share is a commitment to making government work better for the people. The tools they use differ, but all share an ethos of agile, iterative, human-centred and evidence-informed policymaking.

Switzerland enjoys some of the highest levels of trust in government and government services are, most residents would agree, in fairly good shape. But despite its federal structure offering the perfect institutional backdrop for policy experimentation, the country has so far not had a place to bring together the conversations around government innovation.

This shortcoming has now been remedied.

On Monday staatslabor launched in Switzerland’s capital. The government innovation lab will work alongside government entities across the country to help them learn from each other and harness the government innovation know-how that’s already been accumulated elsewhere.

staatslabor was launched in the presence of Jörg de Bernardi, the country’s Vice Chancellor, and Sabine Junginger, a Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance and member of MindLab’s advisory board. The lab is funded by philanthropic fund Engagement M, and supported by the Centre for Public Impact and Impact Hub Berne, a social innovation incubator.

We’re excited to be supporting this initiative. If you’d like to know more about staatslabor or have some ideas for what it should focus on first, please get in touch.

FURTHER READING

  • Welcome to Mindlab. Governments worldwide share an insatiable hunger for that flash of inspiration that can transform public services. To do so they increasingly rely on a lab, a bespoke group of individuals dedicated to driving innovation and impact. We speak to the director of Denmark’s MindLab, Thomas Prehn, about this pioneering approach to policymaking
  • Lessons from the UK’s Policy Lab. Andrea Siodmok and her team at the UK’s Policy Lab are blazing a trail across the civil service. She tells us about designing new services around people’s experiences
  • Different by design. Christian Bason is not one for the status quo. He takes time out from running the Danish Design Centre to tell us about a new way of creating policy
  • Laws from the lab. Stephanie Wade is not one for the quiet life. As director of the Innovation Lab at the Office of Personnel and Management, she is driving design-led innovation across government – and having quite an impact…
  • From imagination to innovation. Faced with what are often seen as mountainous challenges, policymakers are increasingly reliant on creativity to power their ascent. Alan Iny explains why thinking outside the box is just the start
  • Briefing bulletin: Design for policy and public services. We take a look at how Design offers a set of tools with which to attack a problem