Start-ups Will Address Public Sector Challenges: Launch of GovTech Lab
In Lithuania, a GovTech Lab will soon become operational seeking to help address problems of the public sector by means of innovative solutions. The initiative of the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation will offer a possibility for start-ups to test their technology with the public sector and also will facilitate the technology commercialisation.
The GovTech Lab brings benefits for Lithuania in two ways. First of all, it is a possibility to look differently at the public sector problems, so that innovation teams that have never worked in the public sector offer new solutions on how to make businesses more efficient and how to maximize the societal benefits. Second, innovative businesses that will participate in this initiative will be able to test, develop and commercialise new solutions under real conditions,” says Minister of the Economy and Innovation Virginijus Sinkevičius.
Twice a year, the GovTech Lab will initiate a ‘series of challenges’ where a public sector authority will announce a relevant problem and the start-ups, businesses or the society will be able to offer innovative technology solutions. Using the ‘series of challenges’ opportunities, institutions will be able to quickly find innovative technology solutions that are not available on the market, and will do so faster than with traditional procurement practices. During the time of implementing one series, the problems of at least three institutions might be addressed.
Today, a cooperation agreement on setting up the GovTech Lab has been signed by the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation, public body Lithuania Travel, public body Kaunas 2022, the Bank of Lithuania and UAB Lietuvos Energija; these establishments will become partners to this pilot project. In the future, more authorities will be involved.
The GovTech Lab will be established under the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) and will also act as a competence centre for enhancing the innovativeness of the public sector in the field of technology. The members of the GovTech Lab will seek to promote GovTech innovation, will carry out GovTech market investigation and analysis in Lithuania and abroad, will carry out cutting-edge technology-related activities in the public sector and will promote the uptake of innovative technologies. The GovTech Lab will be funded from the EU Structural Funds for the next 3 years.
GovTech is a rapidly developing innovation ecosystem that enables business to work out innovate solutions, usually based on the cutting-edge technology and aimed to address public sector challenges. It is estimated that GovTech is a global market of up to USD 400 billion that can be exploited by start-ups and by countries. In Europe alone, there are more than 2000 GovTech start-ups.
Examples of projects under GovTech include smart city technology, from transport apps to citizen involvement in the decision-making process; a doctor’s time-saving x-ray image description technology, which is based on artificial intelligence; the optimisation of requests for the public sector based on artificial intelligence; 3D Virtual Laboratory Learning Platform for students in upper years and universities, etc.
More than 600 start-ups are currently active in Lithuania; however, due to the lack of information only a small number of them work on innovative technology for the public sector. The growth of the GovTech market potential is enormous however: as much as 12 % of the total GDP in Lithuania comes from public procurement, therefore, the public sector may become an important client for start-ups and all innovative companies in the future.