Better, faster, stronger public sector entrepreneurship

New accelerator programmes supported by researchers from Victoria Business School (VBS) and the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) are helping put Wellington on the world map for government and cultural innovation.

Lightning Lab GovTech—a program developed by Wellington innovation hub Creative HQ and based on the methodologies used in their business accelerator programmes, provides a platform for selected teams to create ‘better, faster, and stronger government’.

Launched  in 2018, each year GovTech brings together a cohort of 12 teams from central and local New Zealand government, the public and private sectors, and even overseas (this year from Taiwan), to design, develop, and test new approaches and technologies to improve government, civic, and social systems. Creative HQ head of acceleration Brett Holland says the innovations have the potential to be picked up by similar programmes and agencies overseas, “allowing Wellington, and by extension New Zealand, to become a global hub of government innovation”.

Recognising the programme’s potential, major sponsors Spark and Revera have committed to support the programme for three years.

Victoria Business School’s director of entrepreneurship Professor Stephen Cummings says it’s exciting for the School to lend its expertise to the venture.

“Our researchers and students can help provide insights around effective innovation and entrepreneurship in the civic and cultural sectors.

“GovTech is one of the first entrepreneurial incubators applied to civic enterprise and, as such, it’s already attracting international interest. One of the key issues of interest is around how to gauge the success of entrepreneurial ventures that can’t just be measured in traditional financial terms.”

The innovations to spring out of the programme should create real and positive changes, but Stephen says there are other flow-on effects.

“GovTech will also contribute to upskilling, training, and educating local entrepreneurial talent in the Wellington ecosystem and provide us with the opportunity to contribute to international scholarship in this under-researched area.”

A team of researchers from VBS and DIA are currently exploring how accelerators help to grow human capital. A detailed outline of the research so far is available for download. Ruth Fischer-Smith, a member of the research team, also recently published a blog post about the initial research findings on the GovTech and the Mahuki Accelerator for the cultural sector run by Te Papa which is available on the digital.govt.nz website.