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Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

City innovation, bureaucratic frustration

Lab Notes - November edition

The November edition of Lab Notes brings together a selection of reads for public sector and social innovators, from the present and future of innovation labs, to digital identity in India, to restoring trust in government.

This month’s top picks:

#1. Last month’s CityLab Summit in Paris brought together hundreds of the top names in urban innovation worldwide. Check out AtlanticLIVE's playlist of recorded talks.

#2. “Bureaucrat” has become a byword for indifference, not innovation. In The Atlantic, Bernardo Zacka argues that we need to cut frontline workers more slack, while Martin Stewart-Weeks in Public Purpose says we need to close the gap between policy and delivery.

#3. Last month, we shared Nesta and UNDP’s call to action to re-imagine innovation labs. In this Medium post, Stéphane Vincent from La 27e Région poses some further questions about the future of public sector innovation.

#4. Rounding off a busy month, and to coincide with October’s Istanbul Innovation Days, the UNDP has published an “insider’s guide” to government innovation labs. Produced in collaboration with FutureGov, it focuses particularly on developing countries.

#5. After four years of research and innovation on tech, transparency and accountability, Making All Voices Count has come to an end. Its findings - which make for somewhat difficult reading - have been synthesised on a dedicated website.

#6. Basic income experiments are popping up around the world. In Stockton, California, which filed for bankruptcy in 2012, the city’s first black mayor - and, at 26, the youngest to govern a US city of over 100,000 people - is trying it out.

#7. How is open data making government more efficient? The Open Data Charter has put together a useful bank of resources and real-life examples from around the world.

#8. Although subject to some criticism, social impact bonds are continuing to spread. Now, the International Committee of the Red Cross is setting up the world’s first Humanitarian Impact Bond in Sub-Saharan Africa.

#9. With Richard Thaler joining the list of Nobel Laureates, behavioural economics is receiving more attention than ever. In California, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District isusing nudges to get people to use less electricity at peak hours.

#10. Fairness and accuracy worries (or should worry) all public sector innovators working with algorithms and artificial intelligence. In this Medium post, J. Nathan Matias argues we need to add in a third concern: are they actually making a positive difference?


Matt Stokes

Matt Stokes

Matt Stokes

Senior Researcher, Government Innovation

Matt was a senior researcher working on the collaborative economy and digital social innovation.

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