New Brunswick’s Public Innovation Framework

A growing number of challenges face the province from an aging population and growing debt to successive one-term government and a disengaged public service. Given these challenges, there is a growing consensus in the public service that change is needed despite organizational structures and behaviours that favour the status quo. As a result, GNB’s “Innovation and Design services” has evolved to help public servants become better problem solvers and move towards a more human-centred government.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Recognizing the need for new ways of working, to grow an innovation talent pool, and to change the culture of the public service, the Government of New Brunswick’s Executive Council Office created the position of Executive Director, Open Government and Innovation in 2017.

Since then, inspired by Alberta’s CoLab, MaRS Solutions Lab, Denmark’s MindLab, the Open Government and Innovation unit has sought to develop a first of its kind in the region Public Innovation Framework. Through a ‘portfolio of prototypes’ approach, established an innovation team and framework under the banner of Innovation and Design services. Now housed in Finance and Treasury Board’s Innovation and Design Services, evolved from a portfolio of prototypes that have included: workshops, a public innovation challenge, a public innovation internship program, an i-Team, a physical public innovation lab, design sprints, communities of practice, an ad hoc Deputy Ministers Public Innovation Council, and project-based workshops supporting craft alcohol entrepreneurs, public transportation, literacy, forestry, local government, second language acquisition, and child protection.

The objectives of the initiative are to increase the number of public servants exposed to new tools and techniques, grow a network of interest and practice, develop a common language for innovation, identify existing examples of innovation, connect public servants to external innovators, create space for practice and reflection, and develop repeatable processes and innovation artefacts.

This work has benefited public servants from policy development to front line service delivery by growing their tool sets, social capital, new ideas, and new ways of seeing problems.

Having supported many projects through the lab, the next phase is to support innovations through the adoption process, including monitoring and evaluation. The final phase is to institutionalise the framework in line departments, and facilitate a network of labs towards more whole-of-government approaches to problem solving and service delivery.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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Year: 2019
Level of government: Regional/State government


  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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