June 15, 2014Policy Report

Teams and Funds Making Innovation Happen in Governments Around the World

by Nesta and Bloomberg Philanthropies

Federal/ 2014/

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-4-45-56-pmGovernments have pioneered some of the greatest innovations in modern history. Driven by entrepreneurial and visionary leadership, city and national governments are capable of amazing things.

But while governments can be pioneering and innovative, they can also struggle to find the space and time to invest in the future when they are responsible for delivering the services that people rely on today. Too often, hard pressed executives focus on the performance of the current system, mainstream budgets sustain incumbent approaches, and bureaucracies reject experimentation and change.

Smart political leadership recognises this tendency and creates the structures, capabilities and space needed to allow innovation to happen. These are the i-teams: the innovation teams, units and funds that are helping transform governments around the world.

Our objective has been to learn from the new practices being developed and implemented by city and national governments around the world
– to understand their different approaches, their successes and their limitations. We wanted to create a field guide for political leaders and executives who have the vision to innovate and need to create the capacity to make it happen. Most of all, we wanted to learn from the practitioners who are shaping a rapidly evolving field.

This report tells the stories of 20 teams, units and funds established by governments and charged with making innovation happen. They work across the spectrum of innovation – from focusing on incremental improvements to aiming for radical transformations.