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MiLAB – Govtech and Public Impact Laboratory

MiLAB - Govtech and Public Impact Laboratory, aims to contribute on the digital transformation acceleration of the public sector, by connecting it, through collaboration and open innovation strategies, with start-ups and SMEs that uses emergent technologies and innovative methodologies. MiLAB successfully specialized its activity within the public impact ecosystem, attending the high demand and global tendency of rely on digital innovator among the Government.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The National Development Plan (PND 2018-2022) aims to increase the country’s equity and productivity, through the integration and articulation of the legality principle and the entrepreneurship. As a result, for the first time the PND counted in a public innovation chapter to strengthen institutional conditions.

Therefore, since 2018 iNNpulsa Colombia, National Innovation and entrepreneurship Agency, was designated to operate MiLAB, which was born as a public impact laboratory with the objective of identifying and connection 24th public challenges during the whole quadrennium. On July 2019, MiLAB signed an agreement with CAF, turning into the first Govtech and Public Impact Laboratory in Latin America.

Moreover, MiLAB has become the main national scenario in which innovative public employees converge with Govtech start-ups, capable of designing and developing technological solutions that can respond public impact challenges, and jointly, improve the efficiency and transparency on the public management.

Thus, MiLAB design a methodology, based on the Public Procurement of Innovation tool, with 5 phases, i) Call for Challenges, ii) Identifying the challenge, iii) Connecting Govtech solutions, iv) Strengthening Govtech Solutions, v) Implementation. This process
Enable the public entity to make an innovative public purchase.

MiLAB seeks 3 objectives:

  • Give innovative tools and processes to public employees in order to help them close knowledge gaps, understand better their challenges, and adopt faster exponential technologies, so they can respond to their digital transformation challenges from inside the entity.
  • Technical and technological strengthen of Govtech solutions, through an innovative public purchase method that enable them to connect effectively with public impact challenges.
  • Dynamize and articulate the national Govtech ecosystem to bring out value conversations and connections, in order to boost innovative processes between public and private sector.

Main results:

  • 27 identified public challenges and 24 connected with the govtech solvers ecosystem (plus 10 additional challenges MiLAB is accompanying)
  • 35 govtech solutions strengthen
  • Strategic management and execution of the technical secretary for the Regulatory Sandbox Committee.
  • 185 Govtech and public impact start-ups and SMEs mapped
  • Leading the Govtech Leaders Alliance, with 20 member countries such as: Lithuania, Brazil, Spain and Poland.
  • 6.200 attendees to inspiration and knowledge management

Added value:

  • Implementation of a based on a Public Procurement of Innovation Methodology: MiLAB’s methodology reduces innovative cycles by intervening the public and private sectors. Also, it provides innovative tools and processes to public employees such as human-centred design, design thinking, open innovation, and more.
  • Strengthening and piloting process before the implementation phase: MiLAB’s methodology has a strengthening process that reduces technological adaptability cycles for the public entity in the implementation phase, and the uncertainty, by providing a moment where preselected solutions can be piloted before the innovative public purchase.
  • Quadruple helix of local authorities, universities, businesses, and citizens: articulate and dynamize different actor on the Govtech ecosystem such as, universities, businesses, citizens, and public sector. Due to MiLAB as a Laboratory is constantly learning and change, just like the Govtech tendency that happens to be dynamic and collaborative, it can facilitate a space in which collaboration between stakeholders can happen in a more organic way.

According to the OEA’s definition, MiLAB fits perfectly on the Innovation for an Intelligent Government, defined as a group of strategies and initiatives that facilitates the understanding and implementation of emergent technologies, in order to boost public administrations improvement of their relationship with the citizenship

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

MiLAB’s Methodology has 5 phases, with 24 activities. The process begins with the challenge identification and characterisation. Once the challenge is defined, along with its technical characteristics, functionalities, length and costs, a call is launched, and it can preselect until 3 solutions. Then, the solutions go through a strengthening and piloting process.

During this piloting process, the entrepreneurs attend to work sessions with the entity in charge of the challenge, in order to align the solution with the challenge. Then, the solvers design MVP that shows the entity how the solution responds accurately to the challenge.

Finally, a Demo Day is done to select the solution that’s enable to go on in the implementation phase.

What is the current status of your innovation?

MiLAB’s Methodology has been running with different public entities (some following the 80th Law of 1993, or due their legal nature with their own recruitment handbook), if which 8 of them were prioritized as viable for this first cohort. Some of them are:

  • Ministry of Justice and Law and the National Institute for Surveillance of Food and Drugs (INVIMA) - Challenge: Interoperation and efficiency for processes and procedures associated with the Cannabis industry. Technologies: Digital signature, OCR, RPA, HCR, ICR, OMR, Data analytics.
  • Superintendence of Industry and Commerce - Challenge: Digitalize and automatize the extraction of relevant information on the receipts of medicines and health artefacts. Technologies: OMR, ICR, RPA.
  • National Savings Fund - Challenge: Identify and Analyse emotions and subjective patterns of the users, to promote actions that impact positively on the attention and quality of the entity services. Technologies: Artificial intelligence – Machine learning.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

At the beginning of the methodological and operative design, MiLAB identified the importance of activities such as benchmarking, interviews and workshops, which allows the recollection of different contributions of the govtech ecosystem stakeholders. Moreover, allies such as CAF, OneSmart Technology, and more, have contribute with in-kind and cash resources for the design and implementation of MiLAB’s Methodology.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

  • Public entities: provide innovative tools in order to help them understand better their challenges, and adopt exponential technologies, on their digital transformation challenges
  • Govtech solvers: Technical and technological strengthen, through an innovative public purchase method that enable them to connect with public challenges
  • Govtech ecosystem: Dynamize and articulate to bring out value conversations and connections, which boost innovative processes between public and private sector

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

  • 32 public challenges connected with the solver’s ecosystem trough co-innovation strategies
  • First Colombian Govtech Forum with over 500 attendants and 22 countries
  • First Govtech Bootcamp to qualify 150 public employees on topics such as emergent technologies, open innovation, and digital transformation.
  • Leading the Govtech Leaders Alliance, with 20 member countries such as: Lithuania, Brazil, Spain and Poland.
  • Conformation of the first govtech solver’s community with over 185 start-ups and SMEs
  • 4 strengthen fintech that will receive cash resources to improve their solutions
  • 8 healthtech and over 200 public collaborators strengthen by the More Life: Accelerating Telehealth in Colombia program, alongside UNPD and BCtA
  • MiLAB’s Methodology includes a monitoring and evaluation process with KPIs of input, management, results, and impact. This KPIs can be general, or specific about each challenge and dynamization and connection space.

Challenges and Failures

  • The legal regime of each public entity must be identified due to it can change the challenge development
  • The Guarantee Law was a big challenge during 2021 and at the beginning of 2022, when MiLAB was about to sign multiple agreements with each entity
  • The lack of cash resources from each entity for the implementation of the solution at the end of the challenge was a big limiting aspect
  • The uncertainty over the change of government, along with the
    Continuity of certain politics and initiatives within the entities, is another relevant aspect that usually ends up on the no participation of the entity on the challenge
  • The lack of knowledge about the process of a Public Procurement of Innovation is the main limiting aspect when solving open innovation challenges and implementing an innovative public purchase
  • The fact that each entity has a multidisciplinary team (legal, innovation, technological, strategic) available to assist to each work sesion is key

Conditions for Success

  • Challenger: having a multidisciplinary team available to assist actively to each work sesion; having cash resources before starting the challenge in order to implement the solution; having and identified challenge; socialize the legal regimen with MiLAB’s team to integrate and articulate it with the methodology; having the technological infrastructure and architecture to display a pilot
  • Govtech Solvers: having Solutions that involves emergent technologies
  • MiLAB: having a multidisciplinary team to contribute to each challenge from different perspectives
  • Allies: contribute and or manage the construction of a normative base, strategic vision, cash resources for the implementation, and/or dynamize and articulate the Govtech ecosystem to bring out value connections and conversations


MiLABs Methodology has been implemented with several public entities.

Key aspects: (i) implementation of a based on a Public Procurement of Innovation process, (ii) a strengthening and piloting process before the implementation phase, (iii) working this the Quadruple helix.

Key benefits:

  • Supports and articulate the offer and demand
  • Helps identifying and understanding better public needs
  • Strengthen better the offer
  • Reduces the innovation cycles by strengthening the public and private sector
  • Provide innovative technologies to public employees
  • Promotes and enables the public entity to make a Public Procurement of Innovation
  • Reduces adaptability cycles on the implementation phase
  • Contributes to reduce the innovative uncertainly

Lessons Learned

Govtech programs can be strategic tools to connect Public Procurement of Innovation in strategic sector of the SDO

Stablish a governance for govtech policies can help define better the roles and activities of each stakeholder. Moreover, there must be an alignment between public entities to boost a plan a govtech ecosystem in Colombia

Implement govtech specific programs can help boost actions such as sandboxes for start-ups, articulate regional needs, making competitive tenders and incorporate experimentation processes to co-develop solutions

Find, facilitate and visualize founding options for govtech solvers, specially govtech solvers in early stage start-ups

Anything Else?

MiLABs Methodology offers each challenge:


  • Use and implement an innovation kit of 9 tools
  • Workshops and mentoring on the piloting process to align the solution with the challenge and identify technical and technological requirements for the MVP design

Solvers, until 3 solvers per challenge:

  • Diagnosis and qualification of the govtech solution due its TRL
  • 5 bootcamps with topics such as: business models, technical strengthening, legal aspects and more
  • Mentoring on topics such as: value proposition, govtech users and clients, stakeholders, negotiation, and more.

Project Pitch

Year: 2018
Level of Government: National/Federal government


  • Identifying or Discovering Problems or Opportunities - learning where and how an innovative response is needed
  • Generating Ideas or Designing Solutions - finding and filtering ideas to respond to the problem or opportunity

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

23 January 2023

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