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Public Sector Innovation Lab: How to effectively apply innovative approaches to complete objectives?

Starting back in 2017, we had a vision that evolved into a mission: to create a better environment for the citizens of Skopje. The key challenges we had to work on were reducing air pollution and waste management, strengthening the e-capacities of the public sector, and making Skopje a sustainable city.

So, how did we manage to face this challenge and complete our set of objectives you may ask?

Through the years, we have witnessed our city facing a lot of challenges to create a better socio-economic environment for its citizens. Combining our experience and expertise in developing innovative solutions to societal challenges and implementing innovation in diverse areas, we developed the idea of creating an innovation lab for our city – Skopje Innovation Centre – SkopjeLab.

Have a clear vision and mission

SkopjeLab was the first public sector innovation lab in the Balkans, established in July 2017, with one simple mission – to work on finding innovative approaches to address the challenges and problems our city was facing.

Having in mind the scope of work that needed to be done, we had an even bigger challenge – to design an approach that will include all stakeholders, public administration, and citizens to complete the mission, but will also create the space to encourage and facilitate interaction and collaboration amongst them. 

Defining the key challenges helps you find the right approach

Although we had a clear vision and mission, we had to define the key challenges the City of Skopje faced at the time, to create the right approach and a way of solving them.

Our key challenges were – sustainable city development, public services, air pollution, and waste management.

That led us to define and prioritize several areas of work and detect development opportunities within the City of Skopje. Together with employees and citizens, we then worked to design innovative solutions and implement them in the best feasible way.

Priority areas we worked on

  1. Capacity building in public administration
  2. Citizen engagement
  3. Digitalization and Service Redesign
  4. Urban resilience
  5. Green and sustainable development

Approaching challenges the right way

Once we defined and prioritized the areas we would be working in, we had to find a proper way to approach the challenges we faced.

From the beginning, our goal was to actively engage all stakeholders, and together create and implement solutions to the challenges we face.
Therefore, we strongly focused on implementing human-centred methods and strategies in the process, as an indispensable approach to co-creation with stakeholders. 

Although the challenges were from diverse domains, we placed citizens at the centre of each challenge we worked on solving. To. For that reason, implementing the Design Thinking method as a human-centred designed methodology was the most appropriate approach in order to co-solve the challenges with the best possible outcome for the citizens.

Starting with capacity building in public administration, which required carefully chosen methods and strategies to reach our goals, we organized and delivered numerous trainings, workshops, and programmes for public sector innovation.
All of them were designed in order to cover some of the most important subjects as human-centred design for improving public services, public sector innovation / social innovation, methods and tools for digital transformation, and impact investing.

Facing the challenges of improving urban resilience and building green and sustainable development, on the other hand, required different activities and approaches – building up urban resilience through addressing diverse, multisectoral challenges, such as building databases focused on the challenges the city faces, revitalizing neglected public space through citizen co-creation, as well as developing solutions for the management of greenery in the city. 

Improving digitalization and service design posed another challenge altogether, requiring a different approach when engaging stakeholders and leading innovation processes. The focus of all activities was on (re)design and digitalization of public services, emphasizing internal research and co-creation with the employees of the City of Skopje, and with the public service users as well. The guiding principle for these activities was the active inclusion and participation of all relevant stakeholders in order to effectively utilize their knowledge and experience.

Key results 

The four-year project SkpjeLab has been a resounding success, where we not only achieved the objectives but we also delivered tangible results.

  • Center for technical support of citizens for submitting e-applications
  • Redesign of 8 green public spaces
  • Redesign of the public service for the collection of bulky waste
  • Innovation framework for the City of Skopje
  • Interactive visual and easy-to-access data sets
  • Assessment of public services

Click here to view the complete report of the SkopjeLab project, where you’ll find detailed information on the key results, including specific numbers and statistics.

We offer both in-person and online consultancy services with a focus on innovation development through design thinking. Our process is built on human-centred methodologies and tools to identify challenges, generate ideas and facilitate communication to successfully launch new innovations.

Contact our team at [email protected] and schedule your first session with our innovation experts.

Let’s get in touch and make an impact together!

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