Digital innovations in the public sector are gaining momentum

In 2019, the digital hub YES!Delft The Hague was founded focussing on software startups and digital innovations. Over 50 startups with innovations based on Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain have already been supported by YES!Delft The Hague. Recently, a new GovTech program got launched. GovTech refers to the application of new innovative technologies, driven by collaboration between the public sector and start- and scale-ups. YES!Delft The Hague and Digicampus joined forces for the development and implementation of the GovTech Validation Lab.

Digital innovation in the public sector

The goal of GovTech is to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of governmental organizations and to improve public services. There is a strong need for innovative digital solutions. YES!Delft and Digicampus developed the GovTech program which supports digitalization of public sector.

The reason for developing the GovTech program is clear. Ras Lalmy, Managing Director YES!Delft The Hague, explains: “We experienced a rising demand for innovation support from various governmental organizations. This demand intensified due to the COVID-19 impact revealing the urgency of innovation in the public sector. However, we also observe that many innovations do not reach the finish line. We want to increase the success rate of digital solutions in the public sector.” 

Giulietta Marani, Program Director Digicampus adds: “Many digital innovation pilots are initiated within the public sector. These pilots frequently focus solely on one organizational context or system, a broad target group or shaking up the status quo. After completion of the pilot, it turns out that the solution cannot be widely deployed. Consequently, scaling these innovations is not possible. So we wondered how we could thoroughly validate concepts earlier on to ensure widely applicable implementations.”

The collaboration between YES!Delft The Hague and Digicampus

YES!Delft The Hague and Digicampus complement each other well. Digicampus has a lot of knowledge about collaborative innovations within the public sector and YES!Delft is specialized in guiding innovations to the market. Ras explains: “Our joint experience and knowledge increases the chances of success of a project within the public sector.” Giulietta: “Digicampus wants to stimulate innovation beyond boundaries. The GovTech program fit perfectly.”

The content of the GovTech Validation Lab is focused on thoroughly validating a concept with all stakeholders at an early stage. Giulietta: “The GovTech Validation Lab shows that different parties are needed for a solid business case and a sustainable business model. Often the sponsor of a pilot is not the end-user who will later pay for the service or product. By using multi-stakeholder methods like ecosystem value mapping and stakeholder sessions,  GovTech concepts are validated in an early phase with all stakeholders.”

Digicampus and the Municipality of The Hague were two of the first participants of the GovTech Validation Lab. Yvo Hunink, Digital Innovation Consultant, Municipality of The Hague shares his experiences: “Together with the winning team of the Conscious Cities challenge from the Odyssey Hackathon, we participated in the GovTech Validation Lab. All relevant stakeholders were committed to helping validate our solution. We have managed to apply a prototype of a Scalable and Secure Smart City solution to an urgent problem in urban safety and security. The GovTech Validation Lab has made a huge contribution to convincing our complex ecosystem. ”

The GovTech Validation Lab is different from other startup programs of YES!Delft.

Ras: “Where normally the startup is at the heart of the program, the GovTech Validation Lab works with a team consisting of the problem owner, the startup and relevant stakeholders. We call this a ‘crew’. The advantage is that a crew works together systematically towards a clear case and a pilot proposal that takes into account the interests of all stakeholders. This ensures acceptance and scalability of the pilot.”

Giulietta: “A customer-supplier relationship does not exist in this program. We build an ecosystem in which problem owners design, develop and validate the concept together with problem solvers. I really like that about the GovTech Validation Lab. It also helps to get long-term involvement from stakeholders. The different crews are also on a journey together. They really learn and help each other”

Future plans

The collaboration between YES!Delft The Hague and Digicampus goes further than the GovTech Validation Lab. The first edition of the Validation Lab was a success, so plans are made to add new GovTech programs.

Ras: “We are really ambitious. We work on a complete range of programs to maximize the chances of success from concept to broad implementation. For example, we are finalizing a module that offers continuity to crews after completion of the GovTech Validation Lab. This allows us to further support projects towards scaling up.”

Giulietta: “We also look at GovTech Funding, which zooms in on financing the entire lifecycle of a GovTech innovation and on the roles of stakeholders in this process. Obtaining funding for a pilot is one thing, but getting funded for scaling is often way more difficult.”

The next GovTech Validation Lab is planned after summer. Digicampus is participating with at least one team.

Ras: “Governmental organizations that want to thoroughly validate a concept after for example, a hackathon or during a startup challenge can participate in the program.”

Giulietta: “Anyone who has a widely applicable concept and wants to validate it together with stakeholders can sign up. It is important that you already have a solid plan, for example, a prototype. If you only have a pilot idea, the GovTech Validation Lab is less suitable.”

The official call to join the GovTech Validation Lab will follow soon. Interested parties can find more information on the GovTech landing page.

About Digicampus: 

Digicampus is convinced that government, the market, science and residents together can translate needs from society into innovative services of the future. Digicampus wants to be the place where government, market, science and citizens design the public services of tomorrow. Digicampus works together with all these parties on issues that transcend organizational-, domain-, and national borders and eliminates barriers to innovation.

About YES!Delft: 

Since 2005, YES!Delft has grown into one of the most successful startup incubators in the world. Today, more than 200 startups have access to the unique YES!Delft ecosystem of mentors, experts, investors and corporate partners, which is one of the largest ecosystems in Europe. YES!Delft currently offers nine focus areas, each with its own specialized network, ranging from Aviation to Cleantech, Robotics and MedTech. YES!Delft The Hague focuses on software-related startups, in particular Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain and YES!Delft Rotterdam has its focus on the SocialTech domain.

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