What is the staatslabor?
The staatslabor was born from a keen interest in public action and the desire to keep it in pace with present opportunities. In the summer of 2016, a group of young people from such diverse backgrounds as design, technology, social sciences, politics and administration decided to set up a site where issues related to public services and policies could be tackled in a multidisciplinary and innovative fashion.
Officially launched in January 2017 and housed in the Impact Hub of Berne - located in the heart of the old town, the staatslabor supports the developmental work of Swiss public and parapublic sectors striving to offer citizens services tailored to their current and future needs. The staatslabor functions simultaneously as a platform connecting experts, civil society and administrations, a forum for exchange, and a laboratory for public innovation.
It is highly gratifying that with the staatslabor a young and independent organisation is working on public sector sustainability. Society benefits enormously if the state and the administration are innovative and if public services are offered in a future-oriented and accessible manner. That is what I am committed to - and that is what the staatslabor stands for.
Switzerland is fortunate to have a dynamic and trustworthy administration that contributes significantly to the country’s high quality of life. In times of ever-changing challenges, the administration has to continuously acquire new knowledge and know-how to tackle emerging issues.
The staatslabor thus functions as a platform to both enable exchanges between various actors within the public sector and to provide connections to an external network of experts and practitioners. This network, maintained and continuously expanded by the staatslabor, includes specialists from various fields, ranging from data pioneers to participation experts.
Ultimately, the staatslabor aspires to function as a connection between the users of public services and those who offer and develop these services on a daily basis.
We organise thematic conferences, meetings, workshops and informal meetings and write about these events in our newsletter.
The staatskantine event series was unknown to me before my presentation in November 2018. As a scientist, I was of course curious and pleasantly surprised in the end. This discussion format offers an ideal platform to exchange ideas with experts, interested practitioners and creative thinkers. An open dialogue offers new impulses for everybody involved.
The fact that innovation can improve the functioning of the public sector is now widely recognised. New technologies and methods have been used by the private sector and NGOs for quite some time. They are increasingly being applied by the administration as well, allowing for processes to be designed more efficiently, interfaces to become more practical and services to become more citizen-friendly.
From an international perspective, the staatslabor finds itself in good company with various other institutions promoting the same innovations. Indeed, a transboundary exchange of best practices and successful applications of innovations is one of the staatslabor’s central achievements.
In addition, the staatslabor highlights and interlinks successful innovation models in the cantons, municipalities and regions of Switzerland to ensure the dissemination of good ideas and their adaptation to regional needs. By publishing snapshots of relevant projects and interviews with the people involved in our blog, we hope to inspire new innovation efforts.
Practitioners of innovation in administration would like to share their experiences with other departments, levels of government and other countries in order to diminish borders and silos. Ever since its establishment in 2016, staatslabor has acted as the focal point of a growing movement for public innovation in Switzerland providing it with vital contributions.
The staatslabor is located in the Impact Hub Bern, a place for exchange between pioneers, creative minds, entrepreneurs and representatives of public and private institutions. This is where collaborations for sustainable and inclusive solutions in our society are being planned and implemented. In this suitable environment, the staatslabor tests new innovation methods with various actors at all levels of the public sector. Therefore, it offers public sector staff the opportunity to experiment with new perspectives and approaches outside of their usual workplace.
We believe the current challenges facing our community require customized solutions. This means bringing together a wide range of approaches and expertise. To achieve this goal, we work with practitioners from all fields, ranging from designers to programmers. We analyze, design, test and implement. This enables us to carry out projects with concrete plans and objectives together with the administration. Just like in a real laboratory, making mistakes is allowed, as they enable us to solve problems step by step. We are looking forward to conducting experiments together with you!
By collaborating with the staatslabor, we have gained seminal insights for our pilot project. For any future trials, I'd be keen to involve them already in the conceptualisation of the pilot.