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MEFLab, a Public Policy Innovation Laboratory

Key visual_Laboratorio de Innovacion de Políticas Públicas_VFinal

In Peru, the lack of systematic evidence hinders efficient budget allocation and innovative public policy. The MEFLab addresses this by conducting experimental evaluations of programs and policies that benefit the Peruvian Ministries and the citizens through improved public services. The lab's innovation lies in using existing evidence, creativity, and collaboration to design new public policy solutions and promote evidence-based decision-making.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The MEFLab (Public Policy Innovation Laboratory) by the Peruvian Ministry of Economy and Finance addresses several challenges and seizes opportunities in the public policy sector:

Problem/Opportunity: In Peru, there are various public interventions that assist the most vulnerable citizens in coping with challenging circumstances such as financial limitations. As these initiatives are financed by the public budget, it is crucial to produce comprehensive and reliable evidence of their effectiveness and efficiency.

The Laboratory's goal is to use and generate systematized and reliable evidence on the cost-effectiveness of various programs, policies, and governmental interventions. This is achieved by designing controlled experiments and using natural experiments to measure the cost-effectiveness of public interventions.
Experimental studies are applied to all types of interventions, including low-cost interventions related to behavioural theory and information campaigns. However, the Laboratory primarily focuses on
programs and public interventions with a significant thematic and budgetary scale, which are typically not rigorously evaluated.

Specific Objectives
Conduct controlled experiments (RCTs) and utilize natural experiments from existing interventions and innovative proposals.
Disseminate the results and implications of the evaluations.
Promote the use of generated evidence to improve decision-making across sectors.
Establish alliances with external teams, both national and international, to exchange experiences and knowledge, ensuring the rigour and objectivity of evaluations.

Beneficiaries: The primary users and beneficiaries of the results generated by the Laboratory are the Peruvian Ministries, such as the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education. These ministries can ensure the sustainability of relevant public interventions or the reformulation/discontinuation of others through the Laboratory’s evidence-based interventions.

Future Vision: The MEFLab aims to identify potential partners aligned with its objectives and establish communication channels for collaboration. It plans to develop a comprehensive strategy outlining collaboration goals, mutual benefits, and resource-sharing mechanisms. The MEFLab aims to develop a robust funding strategy to increase funding opportunities by actively seeking grants, partnerships, and sponsorships from international organizations.

Lastly, MEFLab's goal is to provide a comprehensive and diverse range of evidence-based insights to empower decision-makers, optimize resource allocation, enhance impact and promote positive societal change.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

MEFLab, the Public Policy Innovation Laboratory established by the Peruvian Ministry of Economy and Finance, is unique and innovative in several ways:
1. Evidence-Based Approach: MEFLab uses controlled and natural experiments to generate systematic and rigorous evidence for efficient budget allocation and innovative public policy. This evidence-based approach helps in making informed decisions and better utilization of public resources.
2. Cross-Sector Collaboration: MEFLab collaborates with various Peruvian Ministries. These ministries are the primary users and beneficiaries of the results generated by the Laboratory.
3. International Alliances: MEFLab has established strategic alliances with international organizations like the University of Chicago and the University of Toronto. These partnerships encourage cross-cultural collaboration.
4. Focus on Significant Interventions: Unlike many other labs, MEFLab primarily focuses on public interventions with a significant budgetary scale.

What is the current status of your innovation?

In 2023, the Ministry of Economy and Finance held workshops for the implementation of the Laboratory. In October, through Article 27 of Peruvian Law No. 31912, the strategy "Promotion of Impact Evaluations" was created to finance impact evaluations through contests. Also, in October, the MEF Lab was created under the name of "Public Policy Innovation Laboratory Working Team", and in December, the Minister of Economy and Finance officially launched the MEFLab.

The Laboratory's activities will be carried out between 2024 and 2025, coinciding with the establishment of its mechanisms. The laboratory is currently working on the first experimental evaluation design for a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program focused on vulnerable early childhood. Additionally, the lab is conducting another experimental evaluation related to bullying prevention interventions, which focuses on school students.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

The University of Chicago: Through the Development Innovation Lab they provided technical assistance for the constitution of the Laboratory.

The University of Toronto: They will enable the development of evaluations of public interventions through a collaboration agreement.

Development Bank of Latin America: CAF will provide funds through a technical cooperation agreement.

United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund: UNICEF will provide technical assistance to projects.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

The Peruvian Ministry of Economy and Finance benefits from this innovation by improving its decision-making process for allocating budget and ensuring the sustainability of public interventions.

Other ministries in Peru receive cost-effective solutions from the MEFLab, which helps them to ensure the effectiveness and impact of their programs and policies.

Research centres and universities benefit through knowledge exchange and contribute to evaluation objectivity.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

The MEFLab has not yet been able to measure its impact directly. However, it is currently working on the first experimental evaluation design for a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program aimed at helping vulnerable children during early childhood. The laboratory is also conducting another experimental evaluation related to interventions for bullying prevention in school students.

In the future, the Laboratory expects to:

Scale up cost-effective programs: The Laboratory will use the generated evidence to inform and improve decision-making.

Implement the evidence repository: The Laboratory will Implement an online platform that provides information about the Laboratory and includes a national and international evidence repository.

Challenges and Failures

Organisational structure
Issue: Lack of formal structure affecting clarity and efficiency
Develop job descriptions, reporting lines, and communication channels.
Implement project management tools for operational efficiency.

Cross-cultural collaboration
Issue: Difficulties in establishing alliances with international organizations
Identify potential partners aligned with objectives and establish communication channels.
Encourage cross-cultural exchanges and leverage existing networks.

Funding strategy
Issue: Inability to obtain external resources for projects
Develop a comprehensive strategy outlining collaboration goals and resource-sharing mechanisms.
Promote global openness to diverse ideas and approaches.

Conditions for Success

For a successful MEFLab, these conditions must be met:

1. Supporting Infrastructure and Services: The Laboratory must have access to reliable data sources, communication platforms, and evaluation tools. This will allow for rigorous and systematic experiments, as well as the dissemination of results.

2. Policy and Rules: The Laboratory must be governed by a clear legal framework that defines its scope, objectives, functions, and mechanisms. This framework should also establish ethical standards and protocols for conducting evaluations and using evidence.

3. Leadership and Guidance: Effective leadership is essential for aligning the Laboratory’s objectives, fostering collaboration, and overcoming challenges.


No, the innovation hasn’t been replicated yet. The potential for the innovation to be further replicated in the future is high:
1. MEFLab is a dynamic space that fosters creativity in designing new public policy solutions using rigorous and systematized evidence.
2. MEFLab has four main mechanisms to conduct and promote impact evaluations, disseminate results, and use evidence for decision-making.
3. MEFLab has strategic partnerships with external team to exchange experiences and knowledge, ensuring the rigor and objectivity of evaluations.
These features suggest that MEFLab has a strong foundation and vision to pursue innovation and sustainability in public policy and can serve as a model for other similar initiatives in the future.

Lessons Learned

Some lessons from the experience of implementing MEF Lab are:
Establish a clear organisational structure: Define roles and responsibilities, reporting lines, and communication channels to ensure clarity and efficiency within the team.
Leverage cross-cultural collaboration: Identify and engage with potential partners that share the same objectives and can provide technical support, knowledge exchange, and funding opportunities.
Develop a robust funding strategy: Seek and apply for grants, sponsorships, and partnerships from international organisations that can support the sustainability and scalability of the initiative.
Implement feedback mechanisms: Monitor and evaluate the operations and outcomes and adapt to changing needs and challenges

Anything Else?


Project Pitch

Supporting Videos


  • Generating Ideas or Designing Solutions - finding and filtering ideas to respond to the problem or opportunity
  • Developing Proposals - turning ideas into business cases that can be assessed and acted on
  • Implementation - making the innovation happen

Innovation provided by:


Date Published:

2 July 2024

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