Armenia: Open Governance Lab

Innovation Areas: LAB, CROWDSOURCING
Stage: Early stage

Creation of an open governance lab within the Government of Armenia

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The problem addressed

Lack of citizen participation in the design and development of public services (low trust in government reforms) and development programmes.  Lack of understanding among civil servants of public innovation and of the potential of co-design.  Lack of access among change-makers to seed finance for experimentation with potential innovations.

The intervention

Set up an open governance lab within the Government of Armenia. Used crowdsourcing to reach people. Borrowed tools from Kolba Lab and Mind lab /DK and used design thinking to design services.  Hosted networking events on new frontiers of public policy and social action (for Armenia).

The partners

Worked with the Open Government Partnership Armenia Working Group within the Office of the Prime Minister, MindLab, Nesta, FutureGov, Smart City Yerevan (local NGO), Freedom of Information Centre Armenia (local NGO), active citizens and progressive public servants.


Lab concept elaborated by the Office of the Prime Minister with UNDP consulting/support/facilitation. Two design challenges launched with government departments to enhance local governance (engaged with 3839 via social media and 130 via outreach workshops; 60 applications received; results) and create climate change early warning systems (open until end February 2015 to connect to a simulation exercise being run by the government).  A Canadian-Armenian transport engineer quit his job in Canada and travelled to Yerevan to implement his idea for improving public transportation (as an unpaid volunteer!).  Conducted a foresight exercise using Futurescaper.  Hosted networking events, such as on open data/citizen science and brand Armenia (174 participants attended the events).

Lessons identified

If you wish to engage governments in collaborative innovation, it is better to show rather than tell.  Find a department/agency which has previously demonstrated interest in improving the way it works, pick a persistent issue and address it better through co-design; then lobby senior decision makers like mad to spread the practice.

On the promotion of collaborative innovation amongst UNDP colleagues and government oriented civil society organisations, it is much easier once the Government has backed the practice.

The insights generated by web-based foresight tools are not worth the investment.

Contact person

Marina Mkhitaryan: 

Related materials

Website: Open Govt partnership strategy

Official Website: Kolba Lab, UNDP Innovation Lab

Blog: Big hits and blunders, a social innovation lab in Armenia

Article: Winners, My Local Governance Challenge

Facebook: Photo Stream


$110,000 USD

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