Skip to content
An official website of the OECD. Find out more
Created by the Public Governance Directorate

This website was created by the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI), part of the OECD Public Governance Directorate (GOV).

How to validate authenticity

Validation that this is an official OECD website can be found on the Innovative Government page of the corporate OECD website.

EITA! – Public Challenges and the Encouragement of Open Innovation

The city of Recife needed to become a city open to innovation. The E.I.T.A! Recife (EITA Recife), Desafios Públicos e o Fomento à Inovação Aberta, was created and a process of cultural transformation is being conducted in the City Hall to change the paradigm of how to do open innovation in the public service for and with the citizen. Recife was the first city in Brazil to sign 6 public innovation contracts and to compose a hub of living labs. It achieved a 70% reduction in time for innovation processes and an 83% reduction in the cost of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Since 2019, Porto Digital, the largest urban and open technology park in Brazil, has generated approximately BRL 2.1bn in revenue annually. In 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it registered a 21.7% growth in revenues. Last year, the technology park employed more than 13,700 professionals and 349 companies. So what was missing? A more efficient and strong action to promote open innovation by the Recife City Hall, that is, transforming Recife, including public policies, into a city open to innovation. All of this, with the following objectives:

  • Fostering open innovation
  • Doing open innovation for and with the citizen
  • Implementing public innovation policies
  • Solving major public challenges
  • Fostering new businesses
  • Creating products
  • Generating entrepreneurial tourism
  • Carrying out continuous learning activities
  • Supporting the teams of public servants participating in the innovation programme
  • Promoting the culture of open data

In this sense, Recife City Hall has initiated a series of actions to stimulate technology and innovation in the city. A great cultural transformation movement was created in the City Hall, EITA Recife. This movement is the Innovation and Open Transformation Squad of Recife City Hall (Esquadrão de Inovação e Transformação Aberta da Prefeitura do Recife). From the creation of EITA Recife, a profound process of cultural transformation is being conducted among the City Hall secretariats in order to change the paradigm of how to do open innovation in the public service. With this cultural transformation, a process was designed that goes from the identification of challenges, fundraising and launch of innovation cycles to the management of the innovation process based on four tracks: Innovation Cycles, Partnership with Academies, Hackathons and Living Labs.

In just over 1 year EITA Recife implemented Design Thinking methods to involve all secretariats, identify problems, hold an interactive workshop to differentiate problems, challenges and solutions and fill in the public challenge Canva (created by EITA Recife), in an agile, effective process that lasts approximately 3 months. Allied to this, an open innovation policy was developed with OKR-based strategies (Objectives and Key Results). The programme includes all employees of the direct and indirect administration of the Municipality of Recife, as well as the entire national innovation ecosystem, including technology parks, startups, public and private companies, other public bodies, universities, colleges, students and entrepreneurs.

EITA Recife is consolidating itself as an important public innovation hub in the country. Recife was the first city in the country to sign 6 public innovation contracts at once, from an innovation cycle, using the Legal Framework for Startups, with an estimated investment in the first year of 5.4 million reais. A replication model was created to be used by other cities. Among the highlights is the Regulatory Sandbox environment that was created, through Municipal Decree No. 35511 of 01/04/2022, with the objective of creating an experimentation environment with a living laboratory scenario: EITA Labs. It allows for reducing bureaucracy and designing innovation actions that can be tested and built with the active participation of actors in the region and outside it.

The main deliverables were:

  • Change management process
  • Design to identify Public Challenges
  • Open Innovation Policy
  • Innovation Strategy using OKR
  • Open Innovation Call using LC 182
  • Open Innovation Cycles Methodology
  • Innovation Project Management Methodology
  • 6 CPSI's signed
  • Regulatory Sandbox
  • Public Call Notice for urban experimentation
  • Living Labs Hub - EMPREL and PTI
  • 16 Innovation Solutions delivered to the city for experimentation.

For more information, you can consult the portals of the 1st Open Innovation Cycle, EITA Labs, Citizen Hacker and Open Data:,, and

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

The implementation of public open innovation policy was done by utilising agile techniques and John Kotter's 8 steps for change and culture management. We used the CANVAS of exponential organisations to convey the vision of change clearly. Among the key ideas was the instantiated Design Thinking method to identify public challenges and the unprecedented creation of the public challenge Canva. A key innovative aspect of our project involved the way of contracting innovative solutions by carrying out a different, disruptive and unprecedented tender in the country using the legal framework of startups. The creation of a living lab, our EITA Labs, as a space for urban experimentation was one of the first living labs hub in the country together with Foz do Iguaçu. Finally, our project used EMPREL's model of strategic partnerships for the products created, thus generating and fostering new businesses.

What is the current status of your innovation?

EITA Recife is consolidating itself as an important public innovation hub in the country. Six innovation solutions have been delivered to the city for experimentation and a replication model to be used by other cities was developed.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

We can highlight the partners of the first innovation cycle: Porto Digital, PTI, ENAP, Ikone, CAF and Impact Hub Brasília.

Ikone helped us with the challenge platform while the other partners allowed us to connect other innovation environments for the registration in the challenges. In addition to these partners, we can highlight Foz do Iguaçu and PTI, with whom we signed a technical co-operation agreement and thus the first hub of living labs in Brazil was born: EITA Labs and Vila A Inteligente.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

Public servants, as well as the national innovation ecosystem: technology parks, startups, public and private companies, public agencies, universities, colleges, students and entrepreneurs. On the other hand, among the stakeholders are the citizens of Recife, who suffer from various problems in the city and benefit from solutions. Thus, EITA Recife has the mission to create an environment conducive to connections, solving the desire of citizens to solve problems and the innovation ecosystem's proactiveness to generate new innovation products.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

EITA Recife is consolidating itself as an important public innovation hub in the country. Six CPSI's have been signed, with an estimated investment in the first year of 5.4 million reais. A replication model was created to be used by other cities. Main deliverables: 1) Change management process; 2) Design to identify Public Challenges; 3) Open Innovation Policy; 4) Innovation Strategy using OKR; 5) Open Innovation Notice using LC 182; 6) Open Innovation Cycles Methodology; 7) Innovation Project Management Methodology; 8) Regulatory Sandbox; 9) Public Call Notice for urban experimentation; 10) Living Labs Hub - EMPREL and PTI; 11) 6 Innovation Solutions delivered to the city for experimentation: Integra. ai, L.I.A.H., Absens, SuperVision, Vamoo and Invisible Food. We reduced by around 70% the average time to identify challenges and launch in one of the tracks and Savings of more than 83% in the value of the MVPs'.

Challenges and Failures

To remedy the challenge of achieving adherence of civil servants to the project we follow a theory of change management, the 8 steps of John Kotter. To overcome the barrier of legal instruments we started with the creation of the Digital Transformation Strategy Decree. We also published an open innovation policy and the Legal Framework for Science, Technology and Innovation of Recife. To maintain fundraising we obtained the sponsorship of senior management and a budget highlight of around R$ 5 million to run the first cycle by implementing the change management theory mentioned above. We were able to assemble a network of partners essential to overcome the barrier of mobilising the ecosystem. To face the challenge of security, we use the Open Data Portal to make our assets available to companies and startups that participate in any EITA innovation track. Confidentiality was assured by developing a confidentiality agreement that is signed between the parties, and to protect intellectual property we developed an intellectual co-ownership agreement.

Conditions for Success

  1. Strong sponsorship that believes in the project and encourages it in every way
  2. Expertise and experience of the public servers who are leading EITA Recife
  3. Following a change management process
  4. Empowerment of the team, adopting a matrix and non-hierarchical model
  5. Having a network of partners
  6. Recife is an innovative capital and has an ecosystem conducive to innovation
  7. The existence of EMPREL, a public company that guarantees more flexibility in the contracting process
  8. Control bodies that also implement innovation and have a different look at the issue (TCE with Prisma Labs and MPPE with MPLabs)


In recent months, we have received visits from various agencies and made presentations at events and cities such as: Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Foz do Iguaçu, Campina Grande, Vitória, São Paulo, Curitiba, CGU, MPRJ, PRODEMGE, TRF, TCU, Cesar School, Gov'n Play, PTI, Correios, TJRO, Pre South Summit, Innovation Week, BNDS, Banco do Nordeste, Maceió, Ponta Grossa, SEBRAE, EXPO Amazônia, among others.

In addition, at the Public Procurement for Innovation event, led by TCU, the Recife Case was endorsed as a good practice in the use of the Legal Framework for Startups. From these visits and all the innovation that was implemented by EITA Recife, we created a replication model to be used by other cities. Thus, a new business model was established that allows Emprel to train other agencies and city halls, We also created a model for Design Thinking methodologies that is being replicated by the judiciary and was duly presented at AGILE Trends.

Lessons Learned

  1. Before starting an open innovation process, establish a culture change process. In our case, we used the 8 steps of Jonh Kotter and it worked very well
  2. In that sense, establish a clear vision of your change and communicate that vision
  3. With that, it is important to have top sponsorship. Senior management needs to understand and buy into the idea of an open innovation process
  4. Be agile. Establish a guideline, a minimum planning and get started. In other words, think big, start small and move fast
  5. Follow what we call "Fazejamento". Strategy and agile planning and execute. A reccommended tool that we used is OKR
  6. Allow mistakes, but make mistakes quickly and correct them soon. Failures are also opportunities for learning
  7. Always institutionalise your approaches, whether with decrees, policies or laws
  8. Keep it simple. Less is more. We used tools that everyone already used and did not create barriers with that. For example, we used Google Sheets for the entire innovation project management

Anything Else?

EITA Recife is formed by a large movement within the Recife City Hall, as previously stated. But the leadership and operational side is the responsibility of three areas: Emprel, the IT Company of Recife City Hall (Empresa de Informática da Prefeitura do Recife), SDECTI, the Secretariat for Economic Development, Science, Technology and Innovation (Secretaria de Desenvolvimento Econômico, Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação), and SETD, the Executive Secretariat for Digital Transformation (Secretaria Executiva de Transformação Digital).

EITA Recife is citizen-centred. We often use the following motto in our team: Let's do away with "me centrism" and adopt "citizen centrism". The mission of the digital transformation is: Simplify people's relationship with the city of Recife. In other words, everything we are doing, all our actions are geared towards the citizen.

Year: 2021
Level of Government: Local government


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

21 July 2023

Join our community:

It only takes a few minutes to complete the form and share your project.