Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

The SIILAB was created by the DRJSCS and 15 other founders, from the social economy (association networks, social entrepreneurs networks, R&D institute for transfer of social innovations, a regional research and training chair), decentralised directorates from State services (social security, employment, housing, family allowances, environment, energy, social economy, statistics) and national public financial institutions. The Regional Directorate of Youth, Sports and Social Cohesion is the node of a larger network of public and private stakeholders that were used to work together but wished to improve their collaborative practices to create new solutions for digital and social inclusion. Beneficiaries are citizens that need social aids or at least inhabitants far from digital transformation of public services.

Co-creation process

The SIILAB charter sets out methods in order to «foster the emergence of territorial innovations (and) the evaluation of the impact of social innovations». The methodology follows 3 phases: 1) Co-design of public policies with users for their real needs ; 2) Prototyping and test of solutions; 3) Project development with agile methods. Specific tools inspired from design methodologies are used, such as «Lego games» as Icebreaker between people who come from diverse institutions with different professional mindsets. Other tools and co-creative methods are powered by the DITP (a governmental service for the transformation of administrations). A small team of managers and limited-term employees are in charge of co-creative workshops in a dedicated room equipped with mobile tables, large screens and software often forbidden in the French administration. The SIILAB team is beta-tester for these software, creates fact sheets for users and diffuses innovations on social medias. The SIILAB is a space which favours interactions between administrations and their stakeholders, that allows the “right to fail” and a collaborative work based on agility and a non-hierarchical organisation. Even if the stakeholders are first interested by the SIILAB to experiment new digital tools rather than creative methodologies, the Living Lab helps stakeholders to change their work habits to foster innovative projects.

Digital Transformation Process

The role of the SIILAB in the digital transformation is twofold: 1) exploring impacts of the administrative dematerialization on public agents and in particular on social workers in the region; 2) finding solutions for the digital inclusion of inhabitants whatever their social level and the territory where they live. Indeed, the national program Action 2022 aims at 100% administrative dematerialization in 2022 and at reducing the number of public officials: Internet has to become the main access to public services. But what will be the consequences in a region with a lot of inequalities? The SIILAB is a Living Lab for helping public agents with new digital practices, not only in the dematerialization of administrative requests but also to co-create new procedures beyond paper forms removal. Collaborative workshops were organised on the themes of end-users (digital vulnerability, reception in social centres), digital training of social workers or about authorised software (licences, security, hacking). To reduce the negative impacts of digital exclusion on fragile populations, the SIILAB designed and prototyped an interactive map of all social centres or other institutions than can help beneficiaries in their digital administrative requests. According to a Living Lab approach, a first inventory of local initiatives to improve the digital accessibility to public services was realised, by students of the university. A prototype of the map was invented in co-creative sessions, then tested on an “interactive table” in the SIILAB at Lille during the national «Week for Public Innovation» (2018). Accessible on the web, the interactive map constitutes a new public service against illectronism. An incremental updating of the map (800 places in 2018, 1500 places in June 2019) and user-returns about quality and accessibility are also a type of “evaluation in progress” of this new digital public service.

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

The SIILAB is a tool for administrations to experiment new digital tools and work practices without the logic of signature books and with less political control than usual. As a public innovation Lab, the Lab managers are authorised to test disruptive rules for public procurement, such as the purchase of small equipment on the Amazon website or the use of a credit card. Thanks to the Living Lab, public agents can test online meetings or the national digital platform called “” (simplified processes) that helps public officials to co-product e-administration. As a Lab dedicated to social economy, social innovation and public innovation, the SIILAB is used by more than 150 public or private actors in the region. For transforming the SIILAB into “a network of networks”, the aim is to enlarge the audience of the Living Lab thanks to a mailing list of 1600 addresses (in 2019) of associations, local communities, State administrations, or through more than 1000 followers on Twitter. This social network is also used by the Lab managers to bypass the usual hierarchical communication with the ministries and elected people. Examples of outcomes are: a digital kit to train social workers in digital inclusion practices (access to social rights with Internet); a video prototype to explain «domiciliation in Social Centres»; an interactive map of places for digital inclusion not far from home (training, help of social workers to guide users in e-administration). The map has three aims: 1) helping inhabitants in their digital requests; 2) showing inequalities between citizens according to the territories where they live; 3) encouraging public authorities for improving the geographical diffusion of resource centres for e-administration.

Challenges & Bottlenecks

The SIILAB is a Public Innovation Lab managed by a State institution, the DRJSCS, under the authority of the Préfet (representative of the State authority in the regions). Even if a national call for project is a lever for public innovations, the change in administrative routines and the hierarchical top-down decisional process are real challenges. Another challenge linked to the call for project as a tool for public innovation is the short-term funding, too short to co-create with users and to prototype innovations. So, there is a gap between political discourses about co-creation and Living Labs (that need funds) and the national incentive for reducing public expenditure. According to the SIILAB experiments, a second bottleneck in transforming administrations is the digital process in itself. Cost, skills and data security can be barriers for the use of software in co-creative sessions with any public agent engaged in the digital transformation. And co-creation is not a priority when the digital transformation in public services implies more work to implement new software, new design and new rules (once only, easy to read and understand, etc.). Another barrier to the efficiency of Public Innovations Labs is that projects are based on partnership, too often based on engaged people but who could leave the experiment following changes in their careers.

Transferability & Replicability

The diffusion of the SIILAB experimentations is made by online social networks or through events “in the real world”, in the region or in France. From 2016, the SIILAB projected the scaling up of innovations at the regional scale, at the trans-border scale with Belgium and at a national scale through social economy networks. At a regional scale, the mapping of digital resource centres is a way of replicability in more and more local communities. At a national scale, other public innovations labs or social innovators come to visit the SIILAB in Lille in order to transfer some experiments. But considering the short time funding of the Living Lab, the uncertain future of the SIILAB makes it difficult to imagine the diffusion phase. Moreover, as a public innovation Lab created for the Hauts-de-France region, the SIILAB has no administrative authority to diffuse new public actions in other regions in France. These regions could just try to imitate the SIILAB, but probably in the limited framework of a call of project. A way to get around this obstacle was the participation of the SIILAB to the creation of a «Connected France Hub», a regional hub of public and private actors for digital inclusion (national call for projects from the “Bank of the Territories”). Linked to the national incentive for creating Living Labs in the public services, replicability of Public Innovation Labs as tools for administrative transformation goes also through a MOOC developed with the Sorbonne University in Paris to explain how to create a Public Innovation Lab.

Success Factors

For the government that launched projects for transformation of public action, the criteria of success are: cost-savings in public expenditure, a better quality of public services for users, a better work environment for public agents, an innovative digital project, the quality of governance. For the SIILAB, additional success factors are: an increased organisational performance, the learning of collaborative practices, a better implementation of public policies, new services for vulnerable people (poor, elderly, undergraduate, immigrants…). Moreover, SIILAB managers consider as a success the visibility of the social innovations by the Préfet (representative of the State in the regions) and by the government in Paris. Success criteria of the SIILAB were measured in 2019: more than 150 stakeholders; more than 3050 persons participated in 310 workshops or events (more than 200 participants in November 2018); 50 projects launched; 1600 persons in the mailing list; more than 1000 followers on Twitter and around 25 000 views per month; national prices as indicators of recognition and efficiency (Télécoms Innovation 2018, Best innovative strategy 2018). But a success factor to achieve these success criteria was the SIILAB capacity to reinforce the previous habits of decentralised State services to work together, as well as with the public and private actors of the social economy, including associations, universities and local authorities.

Lessons learned

The role of the SIILAB, as a Public Innovation Lab supported by the French Government, is to experiment digital tools and co-creative methods, often inspired from service design. Public Innovation Labs are elements of a national policy that aims to restore the legitimacy of public action by responding to three objectives: a social issue (linked to digital change), a budgetary issue (cost-savings), a governance issue (Public, Private, People Partnership). The specificity of the SIILAB is focused on social innovation and digital inclusion in a region where a lot of vulnerable people are far from e-administration. Its governance (a committee for strategic decisions, a self-organised partnership for actions, a regional networking) is one model among others in Public Innovation Labs. Introducing the Living Lab methodologies in a bureaucratic organisation allows the “right to fail” and new relations between State administrations, local public agents and private stakeholders (no subsidies but funds for a collective project). But some bottlenecks appeared through the SIILAB or other Public Innovation Labs: 1) co-creation with intermediate-users (public agents, associations) and not final vulnerable users; 2) when an innovative practice becomes a norm, it is more difficult to quantify how it changes public action; 3) it is difficult to evaluate the costs avoided by co-creation; 4) a short-term funding (2 or 3 years) does not allow to test innovations and change practices; 5) the Anglo-saxon model of «impact measurement» does not allow to evaluate the collective value creation (Commons).