Innovation Units in the Public Sector Are Rapidly Increasing

A survey released by the University of Melbourne Policy Lab stated that there are at least 26 public sector innovation units across New Zealand and Australia. This is despite the fact that only a few years ago, reports showed that the region had reached ‘peak lab’. However, recent developments show that at least 13 innovation units have sprouted up over the past two years.

This gives a vibrant public-sector innovation landscape in the region, which is good for motivating economic growth. Most of these innovation units have been funded by the government and are fairly small. Almost half have fewer than ten members and many also seek external expertise.

It is worth noting that majority of these labs are in the field of social issues, welfare, and housing, education, health, as well as public administration issues. The three distinct domains of innovation that the public-sector units are involved in across the region include:

  • Policy Development & Reform – This involves the identification and evaluation of problems, consulting with the necessary stakeholders, encouraging new partnerships, the development of policy proposals as well as reforms and coming up with newer approaches to various problems.
  • Evaluation and Systems Improvement – This involves engaging in trials and consequently integrating the new ones into areas such as public administration, process improvement, and organizational change management.
  • Customer Experience – This involves the generation of creative ideas, prototyping solutions as well as customer experience designing or redesigning.

The above shows that the region is focused on improving the public sector in the region through diversification, research, and development at various levels. In 2019, New Zealand will introduce an R&D tax incentive for companies developing new or improved product and processes. This will consist of a 12.5% credit capped at $15 million p.a. and will further encourage innovation on a national scale.

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