As part of the ongoing cooperation between UNDP and the Bahrain Institute for Public Administration (BIPA), a joint project on public sector innovation was launched in early 2019. The rationale behind this collaboration is the need to enhance the role of the public sector in promoting innovation, to better respond to the increasing demands and expectations from the population, and the ever-changing environment that requires more flexibility, adaptation, and renovation in policies, practices, and methodologies.

After a rigorous selection of employees from different government entities and ministries, a group of 25 “Innovation Advocates” was identified. The bulk of the activities was on training the Advocates to enhance public employees’ capacity to think differently as they seek solutions to current and future challenges while drawing on best practices in the field.

After a 6-month training programme for which the project engaged the Finnish innovation firm Demos Helsinki, the trainees learned new mechanisms and alternative solutions to innovatively deal with existing and new challenges within and outside of their work place. The Advocates were teamed in working groups, and tasked to identify, analyze, and address a challenge, and find solutions through an innovation-driven process.

Despite the logistical challenges levied on the initiative by the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme carried on its activities through on-line virtual sessions, culminating in the finalization and presentation of final prototypes by each team. We expect to see these ideas scale up, grow and to be implemented in the future.

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