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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.

Lab Notes - December/January edition

Brought to you by Nesta, GovLab, MaRS, MindLab and SIX; Lab Notes is a loose network of labs, units and teams working to support public sector innovation. Through a combination of useful content and links, our monthly digest will bring together interesting tools and news from public sector innovators around the world.

This month’s key lab picks:

#1. This month’s season of The Long + Short, Nesta’s digital magazine, is specially dedicated to labs of all kinds. Read The Long + Short here.

#2. A recent article in The Economist, 'Test-tube government: Governments are borrowing ideas about innovation from the private sector', describes some of the best examples of public innovation labs and the improvements they're making.

#3. Read this article from Planetizen to get an insight into to the rise of civic innovation labs - 'The Next Frontier of Engagement: Civic Innovation Labs'.

#4. Following their Labs for System Change event, MaRS has released its conference report, available online.

#5. As part of the November-December 2014 series on innovation labs, a joint project between Bridgespan and The Rockefeller Foundation, Philip Colligan of Nesta and Christian Bason of the Danish Design Centre have combined forces in the Harvard Business Review to show that if it’s a hotbed of innovation you’re after, look no further than government: Look to Government—Yes, Government—for New Social Innovations.

#6. Ever wondered how public sectors can become more effective innovators? In this paper, 'How can public organisations better create, improve and adapt?', Nesta’s CEO, Geoff Mulgan, sets out some of the structures, skills and methods needed for public sectors to achieve creativity and impact.

#7. i-teams: The result of a partnership between Nesta and Bloomberg Philanthropies, this report tells the stories of 20 teams, units and funds established by governments and charged with making government innovation happen. They work across the spectrum of innovation – from focusing on incremental improvements to aiming for radical transformations. Read the online version of the i-teams report here.

#8. IBM Center for the Business of Government launches its report: 'A Guide for Making Innovation Offices Work'. Authors Burstein and Black explore the different forms and models of innovation offices being established to unlock governments’ capacity to innovate – be it at a local, federal or state level of government.

#9. Check out GovLab's Demos for Democracy, an ongoing series of live, interactive online demos featuring designers and builders of the latest innovative governance platforms, tools or methods to foster greater openness and collaboration in governance.

#10. In this hour-long webinar, 'A New Approach to Tackle Systems Change: Social Innovation Labs', The Bridgespan Group and The Rockerfeller Foundation look at how the principles of innovation and experimentation that underpin social innovation labs make them a valuable vehicle to co-create solutions for some of the more complex social, political and economic challenges of our time.

#11. Read 'Delivering Public Service for the Future: How Europe Can Lead Public-Sector Transformation' - a collection of 12 essays from the European Centre for Government Transformation that explore the opportunity and challenge of public service in the digital age.

#12. In 'How Memphis is lowering crime and reviving neighborhoods', the first of a series of op-eds in CNNMoney on the topic of US's most innovative cities, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. writes about how the city's top priorities are being solved using innovation teams, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Crowdsourced content

To capture the most relevant information and resources for you, Lab Notes will serve as a platform for those already working at public labs, units and teams: if you have something to say about an approach you're using to tackle a particular challenge or if you'd simply like to get the word out on an event you're planning, please do reach out to us at [email protected]


Sophie Reynolds

Sophie Reynolds

Sophie Reynolds

Former Senior Researcher - Public and Social Innovation

Sophie was a Senior Researcher in Nesta’s Policy and Research unit. She is now Director of Sophie Reynolds Research & Consultancy.

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