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In-house innovation units


A day in the life. In order to promote user-centred innovation, MindLab undertake ethnographic research, including video diaries, to better understand the everyday needs and ideas of Danish citizens. Image courtesy of MindLab.

One good example of an in-house innovation team is MindLab, a cross-ministerial innovation unit which involves citizens and businesses in creating new solutions for society. It was set up by the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs, the Ministry of Taxation, and the Ministry of Employment to bring together government, private enterprises and the research community under one roof to promote user-centred innovation.

MindLab’s involvement of citizens and businesses in public-sector innovation processes has two purposes: first, to gather qualitative knowledge about the daily lives of citizens to see the public sector from their perspective; and second, to test whether the solutions developed will work for citizens in practice.

MindLab's mission is to involve citizens and businesses in developing new public solutions. To do this, it brings together social research, design thinking and public administration under one roof.

MindLab uses qualitative research techniques – such as ethnographic interviews, observation and cultural probing to better understand public sector from citizens’ point of view. MindLab’s work is also based on design methodologies and approaches and builds on principles such as visualizations, prototyping, iteration and co-creation. Design methods and social research are used within the context of a deep understanding of public administration: understanding the organization, management and culture of the public sector is fundamental to MindLab’s ability to connect effectively with colleagues in parent ministries, and to contribute to solutions that can be applied in practice in a public sector context.

Recent projects include ‘burden hunting’ – reducing administrative burdens on Danish companies. This resulted in 37 simplification initiatives. MindLab are also carrying out work on climate change, gender divisions in the labour market, breaking down barriers to employment faced by young immigrants.