The lab brings citizens and stakeholders together in a structured design process to form a common realisation of present challenges and pathways to the future. The stakeholders engaged are all identified and relevant to the target group. They are part of a national ecosystem from user, practitioner to policymakers locally, regionally and nationally. The design methods used in the lab are visualizations of processes, gap analysis and aesthetic disruption to enable needed cultural transformation.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

There is a need for more cross-sectoral collaboration, user-centredness and cultural awareness for transformational change. In Sweden we have tried to build such a platform on which to come together to create innovations on our most critical social challenges. We started out in 2016, commissioned by the Department of Social Affairs and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) to build a policy lab with and about unaccompanied minors.

Since 2018 we are being funded by the Swedish Inheritance fund, working on the wider scope of newly arrived minors. Two of our participants in the first lab have commissioned us with lab processes 2018-2019. The agency for education Skolverket have asked us to co-design a holistic approach to family-school collaboration in one of their local contexts and the UNHCR Nordic region have asked us to co-design a more holistic approach to the initial reception of refugee children. One of the innovations that we have held on to from our first lab, born out of the insight that information was a challenge for the unaccompanied minors themselves and the professionals working with them on a daily basis as well.

The agency for innovation has funded us to prototype an app for newly arrived children serving to collect data from the many hundreds of contacts they have in the first year. The app is intended to facilitate storing information and making the process smoother. The prototype is called Meet Sweden, and has since it started to be tested proven to be important to develop further. We are now working on facilitating the information exchange between different stakeholders involved in the process through new digital technique.

The lab process has been designed as a first step of creating insights and a second step bring them into testable prototypes in a joint structure between many stakeholders. The policy lab dimension intends at creating agency amongst the participants to aid transformation to happen but also highlight hindrances to transformation due to legal or cultural mindsets. When a lab process such as the lab with UNHCR comes to an end, a hearing is held where the findings make up a basis for a joint plan forward. This stage is new and will be beneficial for the local/national level to seek advice from the design team on how the procurement and implementation best will be designed. This is also thought to help advance and make sure the ideas are indeed turned into reality. We believe this to be a crucial step that is often overlooked in innovation processes and much needed.

It is only when we, as SALAR states, brings a new, needed idea into action that it actually becomes an innovation. From a citizen or stakeholder perspective participating in our lab processes this is just as crucial. It is only when innovations are implemented that their agency and empowered selves are manifested. We believe this to be a way for democracy to be vitalised. For scale we arrange labs in many different local or regional contexts to then aggregate insights on a specific theme or target group such as newly arrived minors on a national level. The lab process derived from many local and regional contexts dealing with the same target group is important to create credibility for the insights and also create environments where there will be a will to maybe test new national policy once it has been produced. The aggregated data on what national hindrances there are to provide innovative and collaborative services will serve new policy being produced well. Our current idea is to have three such local/regional lab contexts before moving it up to a national level as insights for policymakers there to take action. The innovations locally/regionally are important since they are hands on and quick manifestations of change and they will be scaled through conferences, webinars, and our own webpage and hopefully the webpages of our participants. The policy hindrances are summarized to the right national government branch for them to take future action on.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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Year: 2016
Level of government: National/Federal government


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen

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