Lightning Lab GovTech

Governments are facing increasingly complex problems and do not have a repeatable approach for creating solutions that meet citizens needs. Lightning Lab GovTech is a three month government accelerator programme that takes government teams through a six stage innovation process of problem discovery, solution co-design, market validation and technology integration. Through LLGovTech, government departments can create more innovative, efficient and effective solutions to better serve citizens.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Governments are faced with increasingly complex problems. They need a process to put citizens at the centre of problem-solving to ensure solutions implemented address the core need of citizens.

Currently governments make decisions about solutions (e.g., a new product or service) having done a limited amount of experimentation and validation with the end user. This approach increases the risk as they lack evidence that the solution will deliver the desired outcome. For this reason, the citizens often end up with a product or service that does not meet their core need.

About Lightning Lab GovTech (LLGovTech):
LLGovTech is about better serving citizens by creating a more trusted, inclusive and sustainable public sector. As a globally unique accelerator programme, it provides an opportunity for local and central government agencies, from NZ and abroad, to tackle some of the world's biggest and most urgent public sector issues.

LLGovTech is a highly structured three-month innovation programme adapting startup-style innovation science (Agile, Lean, Design Thinking) to create inclusive citizen-led solutions. The timeboxed programme takes a cohort of 10-12 projects from across the public sector through a six stage ‘sprint’ process to truly understood the problem (1. Problem Discovery Sprint), to validate the concept with users and funders (2. Sell Sprint), to co-create a fit-for-purpose solution (3. Design Sprint), to experiment and iterate on the solution to get it right (4. MVP [Minimal Viable Product] Sprint). This is all designed to ensure that the solution creates the desired outcomes. The project teams also plan how to scale their solution to maximise impact, often enabled by technology (5. Scale Sprint) before creating an investment case plan to ensure the financial viability of the project (6. Investment Case Sprint).

Teams are 3-5 full time staff and are a mix of government agency staff and people from the private and community sectors. We ensure each team have the diverse skill sets needed to accelerate their solution, as well as diverse experiences and perspectives to reflect the demographic of the stakeholders. Teams are also well supported through a cross sector advisory board, and Te Ao Māori support. Te Ao Māori support enables teams to effectively consider and engage iwi to uphold the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi - NZ’s foundational document between the indigenous people of NZ and the British Crown.

The value of the programme:
- Solving the root-cause problems and building the right solution to meet citizens needs.
- Enabling co-design and collaboration with citizens and the public and private sectors, leveraging the power of the broader community.
- Effectively engaging iwi and the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in government problem solving.
- Upskilling of government staff in new ways of working through immersive learning by doing.
- De-risking public sector innovation through the experimental, subsidised and timeboxed approach.
- Public sector innovation promotes core government imperatives of trust and transparency.

Case studies
LLGovTech has run for two years. The 2018 cohort had seven central government, four local government, and one international government (from Chinese Taipei) projects. The programme culminates in a ‘Demo Day’ event where teams present their solution to over 500 attendees, including government ministers and officials, stakeholders, investors and the local community. Projects ranged from creating a personalised, incentivised digital platform that helps kiwis in financial hardship, grow their financial wellbeing (Spring), to developing technology to detect local water facilities leakages (team from Chinese Taipei). 13 months on, 6 out of the 12 2018 projects are in operation, better serving citizens.

The 2019 cohort (Aug-Nov 2019) had six central government and four local government projects. Projects ranged from redesigning the way we measure service providers’ outcomes to focus on a more holistic, community-based measurement of whānau wellbeing, to protecting nature through sustainable human waste management. 7 projects have already secured support to continue developing their solutions.

LLGovTech is an initiative of Creative HQ, a not-for-profit local council controlled organisation in Wellington, NZ. The LLGovTech programme receives sponsorship from corporate partners to subsidise the cost of the programme for government agencies ($50k). Lowering the cost is part of the strategy of de-risking innovation in the public sector.

Our vision
Our vision is twofold; to continue to grow the LLGovTech programme within NZ around particular issues, such as climate change or health. At the same time we are planning on delivering this programme internationally. We are currently in conversation with Taiwan, Samoa and Pakistan about running in-country LLGovTech programmes.

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Year: 2018
Level of government: Local government


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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