Centre for Public Service Innovation

Centre for Public Service Innovation
Case Study

To create an innovation culture across the South African Government.

  • Leadership
  • Partnersh- ips
Location in government

National government

Where it is based

Pretoria, South Africa

Mission statement

“The function of the Centre for Public Service Innovation is to entrench a culture and practice of innovation in the public sector through a) research and development; b) unearthing, sharing and rewarding innovation; c) testing, piloting, incubating and supporting replication and d) partnering with public, private, academic and civil society sectors”

Annual spend


Size of team


Example of impact

The Multimedia Innovation Centre showcases innovative ideas and methods, with 1,000 public officials visiting in 2013.

The Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI) is part of the South African Government and is tasked with creating a culture and practice of innovation to help overcome government challenges. CPSI aims to improve service delivery through research and development, incubating innovations, and forging private sector partnerships.

What it does

The Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI) is in the South African Government and is tasked with creating a culture and practice of innovation to help solve challenges, ranging from improving hospital services through to reducing crime.

CPSI encourages departments from across the South African Government to approach it with problems and challenges they are facing. It then helps solicit and develop possible solutions. There are four elements to the CPSI model: research and development, incubation, promoting innovation and programme management.

One example of CPSI's role as a broker between the government and the private sector is the Honeydew Policing Cluster Nerve Centre. This initiative began when the cluster commander of six police stations was experiencing a number of challenges, including high priority crime rates, and realised that thoroughfare routes enabled criminals to commit crimes and quickly evade detection. After being approached for help, CPSI brought together experts from the police and commercial technology sector to develop and test possible solutions. The resulting Nerve Centre, which includes a dashboard to aggregate intelligence information with CCTV surveillance, helps to draw links across datasets and disseminates information more effectively to facilitate real-time policing. Microsoft and MTN, a mobile phone company, are the private sector partners providing the technological capabilities, attracted by the opportunity to test and pilot in a real life setting.

Sharing innovation methods and ideas is another core element of CPSI's work. This is managed by their Multi-Media Innovation Centre (MMIC), an innovative learning facility for public servants, which over time has expanded to become an international hub for decision-makers and implementers to interrogate challenges and an incubator of new innovations. The Centre aims to act as a neutral space, taking civil servants out of their everyday working environment and exposing them to innovation case studies, tools and methods. By 2013, three years into the MMIC’s operation, the centre had been visited by over 1000 public servants,2 and has since been visited by an array of high-profile international visitors.

To collate examples that showcase cutting-edge innovation ideas and methods, CPSI runs an Annual Innovation Awards competition, which receives around 150 entries each year.

Interesting features
  • Partnerships: CPSI acts as a broker and convener of networks, with a strong focus on corporate engagement. For each project, CPSI works with government to identify the root causes of an issue. They then set up a stakeholder team drawn from the public, private, and academic sectors to explore potential solutions and develop appropriate funding models.
  • Leadership: as a result of CPSI being set up as an independent non-profit, and then being incorporated back into government, the team fosters cooperation across the South African government, whilst continuing to leverage external partnerships.  

Learn more
Read the full case study on Centre for Public Service Innovation in the i-teams report.

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  1. Nesta interview with Pierre Schoonraad, Centre for Public Service Innovation, con-verted from ZAR22,500,000, conversion using ZAR0.0560357 to £1, as of 21/01/2013, taken from http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/full/
  2. Mail&Guardian (2013) ‘Technology helps find innovative solutions.’ Available online: ttp://mg.co.za/article/2013-11-22-00-technol-ogy-helps-public-service-find-innovative-solu-tions [Last accessed 17 April, 2014]

Photo Credit: South African ministers visiting the MMIC. Image courtesy of Centre for Public Service Innovation

This page was last updated on

Friday, June 27, 2014 - 16:22