GNova is the pioneer innovation laboratory of the Brazilian federal government. We were born in August 2016 as a result of a partnership among the Escola Nacional de Administração Pública (Enap), the Ministry of Planning, Development and Management (MP) and the government of Denmark to create a space for the development efficient solutions for public services. Located at Enap, we have been working ever since to transform the way the State relates to society, refocusing on people and their needs.
Our vision is the innovation as a systemic and transformative practice in the public sector. Our mission is to develop innovative solutions in projects with institutions of the federal government so that the public service can respond with more efficiency to citizens’ demands. To this end, we rely on values such as collaboration, proactivity, openness to risk, networking, simplification, efficiency, empathy and user focus, experimentation and public value generation.
The partnerships that GNova develops with institutions of the Federal Public Administration are modulated according to the challenges they have been facing. Commonly, these projects are developed in cycles that involve immersion in problems, ideation, prototyping, and testing of solutions. Throughout these cycles, the laboratory uses agile methodologies and multidisciplinary approaches inspired by design, the social sciences and behavioral economics. All the projects generate innovative capacity in the partner institutions teams, who participate and learn by doing throughout the process.
The technological, economic and social transformations have demanded from governments around the world responses to new challenges and diverse demands from civil society and the productive sector, including pressures for the State to serve the population more efficiently and effectively.
Governments have sought to react, investing in the development of institutional capacities for innovation, in the creation of support units to innovation and digital transformation, among other measures. This trend stems from acknowledgement of the inadequacy of solutions that were commonly used to solve complex problems that affect the citizens lives and increase the transaction cost of the productive sector interactions with governmental institutions.
In this context, many international agencies have been dedicated to research and encourage innovation in the public sector. According to OECD, governments should take a variety of actions that involve focus on people, use of information thinking to generate innovation, and redesigning rules and norms, forms of institutional collaboration, and effective knowledge management that enable the generation and sharing of innovative ideas. For the IDB, innovation should be the heart of the reinvention of the modern state and the modernization of public management, especially in times of fiscal austerity and budget constraints. There is also the perspective of open government and open data proposing that governments make their data and information available to society, which would encourage innovation in the public sector.
The practical experimentation projects developed by GNova are complemented by actions that aim at fostering the Brazilian innovation ecosystem. Some of these actions, such as GNPapo or our Research and Innovation Scholarship program, seek to prospect and anticipate trends and technologies with potential application in public policies. Still others aim at the dissemination of good innovation practices in the Brazilian Public Administration, such as the annual performance of the Public Sector Innovation Contest. Check out our Actuation Axes to learn more.
Among the innovation support units that have been created, standing out the innovation laboratories. According to IDB “Innovating for better management” report, the government innovation laboratories are dynamic spaces, where promotes creativity for the design of solutions to public policies. They are usually characterized by a multiplicity of member profiles and collaborative approach of problems, working with government, civil society and private sector actors to generate ideas that result in practical solutions to public problems. Sometimes, to maintain their autonomy, spaces are set up in separate structures from the rest of the public sector.
In the public sector, making a mistake has a high social cost; the failure of a service can affect or impact significantly state spending. One of the possible mechanisms to minimize this risk is to reduce the initial scale of this testing by conducting experiments and prototypes, allowing that the implantation impact can be evaluated and enhanced prior to your enlargement. That is what GNova has been doing.
Laboratories, such as GNova, differ from other innovation units by directing yourself to experiment achievement, user research, prototype development, and test of solutions and policies , enabling fast learning, discarding ineffective proposals and strengthening those with the greatest impact.
The prototyping is also a protagonist in communication about new ideas, allowing faster and more accurate feedbacks. It is also more likely to have effective because of the use of research inspired by ethnography, design and collaborative processes that focus on solutions from the point of view of the needs and experiences of users. Therefore, the characteristics the labs assume - and the innovation methodologies they use - increase the probability of achieving greater cost efficiency and effectiveness in the implemented solutions.