A place where we are forging the future of inclusive governance – not just in theory but also in practice

The core themes represents underlying areas where egovlab is active and they are also essential to eGovernment as a whole and the process of eGovlab more specifically. These themes serve as the foundation of many of the activities inside of egovlab.
The networked global economy and the advent of ICT that supports wide knowledge sharing have opened the possibility of much wider collaboration for innovation. Chesbrough (2003) coined the word “open-innovation” for inside-out and outside-in collaborative innovative efforts for value creation. The basic idea of open-innovation is to build a world-class value chain through a new innovation ecosystem where various complements can be combined into coherent value creating solutions seamlessly on collaborative arrangements.

A creative convergence of the organization’s own competence with external expertise is the core of open-innovation.
Today, collective intelligence and crowdsourcing are possible through formal channels and/or social networks. While increasingly people use social technologies to get what they need from other individuals rather than from formal channels, such arrangements often lack compelling experience among the participants. Thus, co-innovation is a platform where new ideas or approaches from various internal and external sources are applied differently to create new value or experience for all stakeholders, including the perceived end users (Von Hippel et al., 2011). The core of co-innovation includes engagement, experience, and co-creation for value that is difficult to imitate by competition.

The co-innovation platform is built on principles of convergence of ideas, collaborative arrangement, and co-creation of experience with stakeholders.

At eGovlab, we apply the above co-innovation model for our everyday work – across all sectors of research, education, technology development and public service redesign. By drawing on both formal and informal channels of collaboration, we tap into hitherto tacit networks of knowledge and expertise. The overarching motivation behind selecting this model of innovation, is to build on our core values of participation, transparency, openness and inclusion.
The traditional processes used in innovation and problem-solving resembled a push system, where the decision makers developed certain strategic plans to produce products and/or services and pushed such plans to their stakeholders. However, in a co-creating process of value creation, the enterprise works in cooperation with all the stakeholders, especially the intended end-users. The core principle of co-creation is “engaging people to create valuable experiences together” while enhancing network economies (Ramaswamy and Gouillart, 2010).
Co-creation is especially relevant for value, relevance, representation and sustainability of outcomes for stakeholders. Increasingly today diverse stakeholder communities, are actively involved in working with decision makers to create value, not only for themselves but for the general public at large, including such social issues as ethics and the environment.

At eGovlab, over the past few years, we have designed, deployed and further developed our own methodology for open innovation and co-creation. Below is a brief description of the process we adopt when engaging with our stakeholders (be they from governments, industry, academia or civic society):

We follow a 6 phase approach, where we begin by identifying the challenges (problem formulation). This first phase is entire driven by the stakeholders, be they citizens, government agencies, industry or academic partners. Once the challenge is well defined and the scope determined, we move to stage two, where we apply the quadruple helix model which brings together the diverse stakeholders from academic/ scientific communities, public sector or governmental agencies, civil society as well as private sector. We physically bring together these key players using “open innovation jam sessions” – events/interactive workshops/hackathons – that provide a platform for co-creation. At eGovlab we have a team of dedicated personnel who are experts in this field and they draw on a wide range of tools, methodologies and epistemologies. The outcomes of the second phase are then visualised using tools such as videos that explore further the various future “what-if” scenarios. Post concept visualisation, we move towards testing and sand-boxing the ideas developed earlier. We do so by preparing our test-bed with open data from agencies and APIs. Stage five and two iteratively then build on the co-creation outcomes via active citizen engagement, in a feedback loop that is non-linear in progression. In other words, we iteratively go back to the drawing board in light of new ideas, inputs and insights. The final stage of this methodology involves creating a tangible road-map, prototyping and pre-acceleration. A critical component of our methodology for co-creation at eGovlab, is the transition from ideation and conceptualisation, via visualisation and co-creation to market readiness. We support winning ideas and solutions with pre-acceleration in order to sustain the dividends of this open innovation process.
A core thematic for eGovlab over the coming two years is to focus on Sustainability – both from a social and ecological perspective. As we move forward from a post COP-21 landscape, our commitment to addressing challenges arising from a lack of socio-ecological resilience are reflected in the new projects and engagements we are successfully undertaking. Be these in the field of water governance, citizen observatories, or smart communities connected via an environmental platform built on open data, we are strongly motivated to be a part of this movement. At eGovlab, we adopt a “life cycle analysis” or “systems thinking” perspective when focusing on the intersection between technology design and societal consumption. Towards this end we support and explore new solutions that are open, ethically sourced and conflict-free, with a low environmental footprint. Furthermore, a core idea that we are nurturing within eGovlab is the synergetic mix of ICT & Development (ICTD) with ICT & Sustainability (ICTS) communities of practice. This is of particular relevance in light of the recently released UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Our commitment to sustainability as a core theme, cuts across our research priorities, engagement with civic sector and governmental agencies, as well as industrial partners (as is reflected in our projects, training activities and civic engagement).