The rise of policy innovation labs: A catalog of policy innovation labs across Canada

Report by the Centre for Policy Innovation and Public Engagement (CPIPE): “In recent years, governments all over the world have been embracing new and innovative ways to develop public policies and design public services, from crowdsourcing to human-centred design thinking. This trend in government innovation has led to the rise of the Policy Innovation Lab (PIL): individual units, both inside and outside of government, that apply the traditional principles of scientific laboratories – experimentation, testing, and measurement – to social problems.

PILs are an increasingly important development in public policy making, with a variety of methods and approaches to building relationships between governments, organizations, and citizens, and generating ideas and designing policy. Yet, these labs are under-researched: many are established without a full understanding of their role and value to the policy community. We aim to address this knowledge gap, and create opportunities where policy innovators can make connections with their peers and learn about the current practices and applications of policy innovation from one another.

This report identifies the innovation labs in Canada, profiling their methodologies, projects, and partners, mapping the policy innovation landscape across the country. Each one-page summary provides a profile for each lab, and highlights the existing innovation practices and networks in the public, academic, non-profit, and private sectors, and identifies methodological and ideological trends across the different labs and networks.

This report is the first of its kind in North America. In this highly dynamic space, new labs are emerging and disappearing all the time. The purpose of this report is to put a spotlight on policy innovations and their successes, and to build and strengthen connections between researchers, policymakers, and policy innovators. Through a strengthened and sustained community of practice, we hope to see governments continue to embrace new approaches for effective policymaking…(More)”.