Case Study

“Stimulating the dialogue in Denmark on transforming our public sector and creating a different interplay between the state and local level.” 

Christian Bason, Director, MindLab

Location in government

National government

Where it is based

Copenhagen, Denmark

Mission statement

“MindLab works with its owners to create change which generates the desired value for citizens, businesses and society.”

Annual spend

£1 million (2012)1 (£0.9m from Danish government, and £0.1m from other sources)

Size of team


Example of impact

MindLab’s project to help businesses to find the right industry code for registrations demonstrated a 21:1 return on investment in savings to government and businesses.

Based in the Danish Central Government, MindLab is tasked with bringing a human-centred design approach to public sector challenges. MindLab draws on the perspectives of citizens, businesses and government staff to redesign services around their experiences.

“Stimulating the dialogue in Denmark on transforming our public sector and creating a different interplay between the state and local level.” 

Christian Bason, Director, MindLab

What it does

MindLab – owned by the Danish Ministries of Business and Growth, Education, and Employment – as well as Odense Municipality - provides an innovation lab function for government. 

Human-centred design methodologies, and an ethos of listening to and learning from users, are the central elements of MindLab’s work. To understand user experiences, MindLab draws on a range of techniques and methods, interviewing users, applying various workshop formats to structure group discussion, asking users to narrate their experience by taking photographs or keeping a diary, and in certain instances undertaking ethnographies; where MindLab’s staff live alongside service users for a period of time.

In one project, MindLab worked with the National Board of Injuries to try and improve the re-entry of young victims of industrial injury back into the workforce. MindLab used ethnographic research to reframe the question and understand the issues from the perspective of service users.  MindLab found that young people experienced different types of bureaucracy depending on the service, from healthcare to social work, and that they often struggled to understand the forms, letters, and questionnaires sent to them, and were often frustrated by the red tape that they experienced when trying to get back to work. MindLab used the research to work with staff from the National Board of Industrial Injuries, leading to a shifting of the agency’s core mission to focus much more heavily on employment outcomes for citizens. Four specific ideas and solutions were also developed, helping simplify how services are communicated and making it easier for young people to re-enter the workforce.

Interesting features
  • Leadership: MindLab’s Governance Board agrees to their annual work programme, ensuring that they are focused on priorities for their sponsors, and they allocate the team’s time to specific tasks. The aim is to provide complete transparency and to affect greater change through longer-term collaborations.
  • Methods: MindLab has a very clear focus on a central method of human-centred design (HCD): this approach that helps link the perspective of the end user to government decision making. HCD provides a clear structure for projects, whilst also creating an identifiable brand for MindLab.
  • Team: The MindLab team includes a mix of skills that reflect the organisation’s ethos and method, including social research, design, public administration, project management, organisational development and creative facilitation.


  1. Confirmed by MindLab in email to Nesta, May 2014. Conversion 0.822143E to £1 as of 21/01/2013, taken from http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/full/

Photo Credit: MindLab's co-working spaces for collaboration with government and others. Image courtesy of MindLab

This page was last updated on

Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 14:56