‘Zaroorath ijad ki ma hai’— Necessity is the mother of invention, or innovation in our case!
UNDP has been supporting the University of Balochistan in the establishment of Government Innovation Lab (GIL) in the university premises. GIL works closely with academia, students, government departments, and private sector for identifying innovative solutions to improve public service delivery.
Last year, we had a chance to work with GIL to organize the Balochistan SDG Challenge Cup. We wanted to identify and work with teams, including private innovation firms, academic institutions, NGOs and public institutions working on innovative solutions, to transform and improve public service delivery. It also gave the government departments an opportunity to transform from inside i.e., transform internal processes to make them more efficient and effective in providing services to the people of Balochistan.
A stakeholders discussions identified that the SDG Challenge Cup will help to move service delivery from a transactional approach to a holistic, citizen-centered perspective. Through it, citizens and service providers will be able to play an active and ongoing role in delivering user-centered effective services against the backdrop of Sustainable Development Goals.
In order to come up with themes for the competition, the Government Innovation Lab (GIL) engaged in conversations with UNDP Sub-office Quetta, academia and GIL team to research initially the needs and requirements of the citizens, then analyzed the data and finally consulted with relevant government departments to identify the gaps in service design and delivery. The shortlisted themes they arrived for the SDG Challenge Cup included:
· Goal 1: No Poverty
· Goal 4: Quality Education
· Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
The SDG Challenge Cup followed a competition-based selection process. The challenge was open to organizations, teams and individuals who had innovative ideas to improve the quality of life of the people of the prioritized and short-listed SDGs. The competition was also open for all organizations working to enhance governance and livelihood conditions in the country through the use of innovation and technology.
A panel of experts organized by GIL evaluated the applications and shortlisted the projects falling under the selected sectors. They were on the lookout for the projects that were effective, cost-efficient, sustainable and had the potential to scale.
Around the key SDGs—No Poverty (SDG 1); Quality Education (SDG 4); Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG 7)—participating organizations selected one or more problem area. They could also come up with their own ideas according to the theme of the SDG Challenge Cup.
14 ideas aligned with the theme of the SDG Challenge Cup and with the potential to scale, were shortlisted from the pool and were invited for an Ideation Workshop. The ideation workshop was designed to mentor the ideas and perform activities to align the ideas to achieve SDGs, targets and indicators. A high-level panel comprising eminent academicians, private sector, senior government representatives and chairperson Balochistan Women Business Association were invited as mentors and judges. A total of 9 ideas qualified for the next round, evaluated through activities and interviews.
After the initial round of Ideation Workshop, a two-days Design Thinking workshop was also organized. Facilitators, mentors, and experts from academia engaged the teams with one-on-one conversation and assistance. The workshop provided an opportunity for the teams to untangle problems together by going through a series of group exercises designed to get a specific outcome. After the design thinking workshop, the judges recommended six teams for the grand finale—which was held at the University of Balochistan.
Judges were invited from University of Balochistan Quetta, Isra University Hyderabad and UNDP. Minister Finance, Government of Balochistan graced the finale as the chief guest. The challenge cup concluded with a winning prize for the two winning teams of amount PKR 200,000 each.
"We came up with our basic idea to facilitate citizens with ease of acquiring home repair services Through the different stages of ideation and design thinking, our idea became a SDG accomplisher by incorporating the module of employment" – Finalist: Muhammad Taqi (At Your Door)
“My idea was to create an online platform where children could play with interactive toys. The aim was to promote learning through gadgets that children are more attracted to. During the ideation workshop, I got to learn how to evolve my model into a Quality Education opportunity for the next generation. I’m so glad I participated in SDG Challenge Cup!” – Finalist: Khair Un Nisa (Artificial Scholastic)
Mr. Zulfiqar Durrani, Head of Office, UNDP Sub-Office, Balochistan
Ms. Ayesha Babar, Communications Analyst & Head Communications Unit, UNDP Pakistan