Usina Pernambucana de Inovação
The State Government of Pernambuco has created a hub for public innovation - "Usina Pernambucana de Inovação". The Usina offers help and guidance for public institutions to innovate. With the Usina, the government can improve and disseminate knowledge about innovation, facilitate experimentations, evaluate projects and portfolios to reduce risks, optimize resources allocation and use, and create a strong culture of innovation.
Many reports and studies indicate that governments need to create conditions to innovate and change public process and services. There are many public servants and public institutions that want to innovate but don’t know how, don’t have the time to think about new process, or find innovation too risky. To change this picture, it is necessary to reshape government, creating a structure to lead and guide public innovation.
Hence, the Government of Pernambuco, through the Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation, and the Secretariat of Planning and Management, created, within the Law of Science, Technology and Innovation, a model of Public Innovation Hub: the Usina Pernambucana de Inovação (roughly, the “Pernambuco State Innovation Power Station"). The Usina also aggregates other institutions: the Secretariat of Economic Development, the Secretariat of Administration, the Secretariat of Accounting and Control, the State Agency for Information Technology, the University of Pernambuco, and the State Foundation for Science and Technology.
These institutions were selected to reassure and facilitate governance in a way that all players involved in public innovation could have a seat at the table, voice and vote, and deal more easily with bureaucracy, making the Usina a multi-department, cross-sectional, and persistent institution.
To a certain extent, the Usina evolved from the Space of Innovation, Transformation and Acceleration (EITA!), which was the public innovation lab of the Secretariat of Planning and Management. EITA existed during 2019, and was able to produce some of the pilots that latter became Usina products (mainly, the training in innovation and the digital transformation with open source).
Today, the main services provided by the Usina are:
- Advocacy and knowledge dissemination of public innovation;
- Innovation training and qualification;
- Evaluation of Innovation Projects and Portfolio
- Technical Orientation of Innovation Projects
- Promotion and Innovation Awards
Although some services are driven by demand, the Usina acts to actively prospect and search for servants and institutions, trying to combine other services to a continuous advocacy and knowledge dissemination. For instance, when a fund is open by the State Foundation for Science and Technology, on one hand, the Usina acts to promote the fund, disseminate the knowledge necessary to propose projects to the fund, and give technical orientation concerning the legislation and bureaucracy. On the other hand, the Usina acts on user interface, service design, etc. to facilitate the submission of projects. This strategy turned out to be very effective in recent request for proposals, since the process was adapted to the specificities of public sector, and it was possible to get proposals from 5 institutions that usually do not elaborate them.
Another important service concerning Technical Orientation and Knowledge Dissemination is a model to prospect open source technology so as to to promote digital transformation of public policies and services. This initiative helps the innovator to diagnose if her/his problem can be solved with open source solutions, prospect open source solutions on public repositories and plan the tech transfer based on the service particularities.
Nowadays, the main service provided is an 84-hour digital training in innovation. The training started as a pilot to the Secretariat of Planning and Management, in which short term courses were designed and tested. The 12h pilot was a success, reaching an approval score of over 96%. The second 12h version was applied in the Secretariat of Health, with a score of 92%. Finally, the last 34h application happened in the Secretariat of Finance, with a score of 94%, 80% of conclusion and 85% of the students increasing at least one level of proficiency, comparing pre- and after-course skills.
With many days and challenges ahead, the Usina has everything to be a success in terms of helping the State Government to improve its services and offer a better life to its population. Now, the main goal is to alter the state innovation fund so as to guarantee a stable flux of money, create a digital space to capture problems, challenges and ideas, and help these ideas take life.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The Usina is a public innovation in governance because:
1) It has an unique model of governance, which focuses on multi department and cross-sectional body. This body can facilitate bureaucracy and offer technical orientation.
2) It involves different services that cover core aspects of innovation. Thus, it helps institutions strengthen the ideas and projects and trains individuals - those ultimately responsible for innovation.
3) It started with the public innovation lab pilot - EITA! - so the Hub uses the very ideas and innovation process that it teaches and reinforces.
4) Its services go from early stage factors, such as advocacy and dissemination, to very advanced and final stage ones, such as evaluation and recognition.
What is the current status of your innovation?
As of this date of submission in 2020, the project has already completed its first pilot in Technical Orientation of Innovation Projects and its first product iteration in Innovation training and qualification.
The innovation training was evaluated and showed very good results and impacts on learning. The evaluation used survey data and semi-structured qualitative feedback, using the formula “What we have done ok? What we have done but need to change? What we have not done, but should start to do?”. The feedback and data analysis showed a need to increase the time of sync classes, especially on design thinking subjects, and to add new topics covering traditional subjects on innovation and on the rules and laws governing it.
The pilot on Technical Orientation of Innovation Projects will finish on oct 19. Evaluation will focus on 1) proposals (which is believed will increase); 2) approved projects (which is expected to reach at least 50%); and 3) dispersion of proposals through government areas.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The Secretariat of Planning and Management and the Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation created and launched the initiative. The Usina already has an integrated governance model with multiple departments. The first product already put together instructors from different areas to create the training while the technical orientation process is mobilizing people from 14 government institutions and researchers from 3 different universities.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Public servants report satisfaction by using creativity in public service, being able to see their ideas coming to life and solving recurring problems. The Usina increases the overall effectiveness of the Government and its servants report satisfaction from leading and formulating the public innovation process. Researchers and innovators working with Government report satisfaction for helping to make Government better and solve social problems.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Even if Usina is a public innovation in governance, it is being evaluated by its main products, which for now are the technical orientation and the innovation training.
The technical orientation is already showing good signs considering it is the first time a planned and active technical orientation is provided. To now, there are 14 new institutions participating, with good perspectives to submit proposals. Also, the data about researchers on public innovation is being structured during the process.
The training is already in product iteration and showed very good results in a quantitative survey: a total satisfaction score of 94%, 80% of conclusion and 85% of the students increased at least one level of proficiency, comparing pre- and after-course skills.
Challenges and Failures
The constitution of the Usina was a very complex challenge. The importance of a public innovation hub had to be proven - what was done with the EITA! pilot. It was also necessary to articulate with all the public institutions involved in public innovation and create a new model of shared governance - which has no precedents, but was a strong factor, since while the Sec. of Planning is responsible for public policies governance, knowing the public challenges and having the capillarity to reach different sectors; the Sec. of Science has the resources, the know-how and the contacts to develop innovation.
Regarding the products, the whole training on innovation was hard to develop due to the lack of precedents - there are many courses on design thinking and similar topics, but not a complete formation. The technical orientation was also hard, since the traditional models of request for proposal are focused on academia and the researchers usually choose the problems they want to solve.
Conditions for Success
Support from senior management and ability to negotiate with many different stakeholders, aligning very diverse needs, goals, etc. To that end, co-creation and continuous communication were very useful.
Another important point was the action from middle and low management. People who used their connections and interactions to ease bureaucracy and accelerate the process. Senior management support is essential, but without middle and low management action, things get stuck in bureaucracy and every-day routines.
Lastly, the training and qualification of the core team is essential. This team, the core team, the team of teams needs to have special training and to dedicate at least half of their time to study, plan and think about innovation, without worrying about regular processes.
This solution could be replicated by other governments.
Factors that could condition replication include:
– The need to identify leaders located in core institutions and that have good knowledge on innovation.
– Build a map of legislation, funds and requests for proposals that may keep the projects alive.
– Create a culture of idea management and idea use, recognising that public servants can solve public challenges.
– Develop a pipeline of experimentation, test and iteration. Changing policies is expensive. Creating new policies also. Risk must therefore be reduced by testing and iterating.
The governance needs to be submitted to regular processes of innovation - ideation, testing, iteration, etc. The innovation process should not be used inside or after the governance, but from the start, and also in the evaluation process that needs to use participative models - which are not default but adaptable.
Another important lesson is the co-creating and continuous communication. These steps need to have validation and be communicated with stories and simple language.
Finally, it is important to start with easy wins and tested products, or products that can go to line with small changes or actions. A good mapping and legacy study is very important to find those easy wins and tested products, smart and good practices that can be used through recombination without necessarily reinventing the wheel.