30.06.2014
By Ruth Puttick/Nesta

Launch of i-teams

Today Nesta and Bloomberg Philanthropies launch i-teams, new research exploring in-depth twenty innovation teams and funds from around the world. Alongside the report, we have launched this site, theiteams.org, a living map to capture developments in a rapidly evolving field. Our aim is to help city, regional and national governments learn from the most cutting-edge thinking, techniques and approaches for supporting innovation. We’d love you to get involved.

i-teams began last year. We were aware of a growing trend for governments to set up innovation teams, funds, or labs. Yet who are they? What do they do? And crucially, are they making any difference for their host and partner governments? Together Nesta and Bloomberg Philanthropies set out to answer these questions.

Drawing on an in-depth literature review, over 80 interviews, and  surveys, i-teams tells the stories of 20 teams, units and funds, all are established by government, and all are charged with making innovation happen. The i-team case studies are based in city, regional and national governments across six continents, and work across the spectrum of innovation – from focusing on incremental improvements to aiming for radical transformations.

The i-teams were all created in recognition that governments need dedicated structures, capabilities and space to allow innovation to happen. Beyond this, the i-teams work in different ways, drawing on a mix of methods, approaches, skills, and resources, and tackle challenges as diverse as reducing murder rates to improving education attainment.

The i-teams report details the different ways in which these twenty i-teams operate. To highlight a few:

  • The Behavioural Insights Team designs trials to test policy ideas, and achieved government savings of around 22 times the cost of the team in the first two years of operation.
  • MindLab is a Danish unit using human centred design as a way to identify problems and develop policy recommendations. One project helped businesses to find the right industry code for registrations and demonstrated a 21:1 return on investment in savings to government and businesses.
  • New Orleans Innovation Delivery Team is based in city hall and is tasked with solving mayoral challenges. Their public safety efforts led to a 19% reduction in the number of murders in 2013 compared to the previous year.
  • PS21 encourages staff to find better ways of improving Singaporean public services. An evaluation of PS21 estimated that over a year it generated 520,000 suggestions from staff, of which approximately 60 per cent were implemented, leading to savings of around £55 million.

Alongside the report we have launched this site - theiteams.org - to act as a living map to keep track of developments, and to create a network to connect the current and emerging i-teams from around the world. As James Anderson from Bloomberg Philanthropies writes in his foreword, “There’s no reason for every government to start its innovation efforts from scratch.” There is much we can learn from what is underway, what’s working and what’s not, to ensure all i-teams are using the most cutting edge techniques, methods and approaches.

You can read the i-teams report in full here.

Get involved

Tell us who we have missed. If you are running or developing an i-team we would love to hear your reflections and insights. If you would like us to feature your i-team on theiteams.org please fill in the simple form here.

We would also like to hear from others who are helping to shape and develop this field. If you have comments, questions or contributions please get in touch with us at iteams@nesta.org.uk

If you’d like to stay updated about new and emerging i-teams, receive updates and details of events where you can connect and network, read blogs and articles from leaders in the fields, then please sign up to the i-teams mailing list.

Contribute to the debate on Twitter using #iteams.