How do you Deploy Innovation to Serve Public Interest?

‘Why 14974100586_cd67d5ba40_zdo we see government as an entity outside the innovation processes?’- was a question that Sita Shankar raised at the very start of the session. Till the time they are seen as outsiders they will remain so. For any entity to exist, survive and succeed it is important to have a united front with the government to create an enabling environment. NJ Anand, reiterated the notion of a united front as that alone can enable one to achieve the most fundamental goal: ‘…to make your product/innovation reach the people it was made for at the first place.’ He sees that happening, ‘with the new government and a more liberal environment for innovators, things are changing.’

Debarshi took a very interesting stand on how innovation is not outside the ambit of government activities. The government innovates everyday- the difference is they are averse to the very term innovation. They realize that the moment government will call their intervention an innovation people will tend to get cynical and more critical. They thus simply term it as policies or programs and not as innovations. However he feels that is changing and the government is becoming more receptive to innovation and more open to the idea of acknowledging other innovators and their ideas. An example of that, Lysander points out, is the fact that initiatives like BIL exist which means that change is being thought about and is happening. He emphasized on the need to work on developing a better relationship between the public and the private. For innovators a collaboration between the government and the innovators is a must, ‘Where are the government officials, why are they not sitting with the innovators and designing?’- Next steps for BIL, to design a better procurement mechanisms to create an all-inclusive environment. Design could be an important agent in changing the processes and procedures that constitute procurement ecology. However he also remarked that a dialogue needs to happen before tenders are developed. The signaling has to go before, in order to develop a tender request that responds to the tailoring of a particular solution. ‘…why is the government not sitting with innovators and researchers and designing solutions.’

Alkesh Whadhwani has a different perspective and considers procurement as the main challenge that warrants innovation. He believes that it’s not always a unidirectional approach. According to him a strong government will invariably lead to better procurement and supply chain mechanism, like in case of TNFC in Tamil Nadu. Anna agrees that a strong system will facilitate a strong supply chain. She talked about how often supply chains are neglected and is only emphasized upon post implementation of interventions. Do you actually innovate for supply chain as well, is something that needs to be thought about? Lysander suggests that data around procurement must also include mechanisms of how to aggregate demand, in order to procure effectively. Solutions from government districts, along with each district coming together to decide who is going to take the biggest chunk of procurement, and then a calculated bid should be made. There is an element of entrepreneurship in this to realize that data comes up at a strategic level to ensure that it influences actually bids of procurement.

A common shout – Have more conclaves, innovations workshops, ideation sessions at the locus of it all – Bihar. Think about who all should be included, what the nature of such conclaves be. Anna believes that it is best to have such events at the district level as it is the best stage for context appropriate ideation and Solutioneering and also easy for scaling up solutions.
A promising journey for BIL ahead. Lot to do, lot to achieve…

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