Kolba Innovations Lab

What we do

Around the world there is an increasingly widespread understanding that public policies and development programmes can be better designed and delivered by working closely with citizens. Armenia suffers from a range of crosscutting socio-economic-political issues: low levels of trust between society and state, a lack of civic engagement, unemployment and top-down governance. The knowledge-based economy –entrepreneurial and skills-based activity – has much potential. There is a need to promote social entrepreneurship and citizen engagement across society and government.

UNDP’s innovation programmes are conducted through the Kolba Innovation Lab: an outward-facing platform that acts as a network to facilitate the connection of ideas, groups and initiatives. Through Kolba Lab, UNDP offers a platform for citizens and innovators to involve themselves in the development process, defining the problem they want to solve, and providing the space to incubate their idea, project, or social start-up. Kolba Lab has generated citizen-led projects in local governance, human rights, and the green economy.

Through research of cutting-edge methodologies, the utilization of new tools, and the engagement of non-traditional actors, our projects act in a catalytic capacity, connecting Armenians to employment in the knowledge-based economy. By transforming systems of governance and empowering citizens to fulfill their potential, innovation is an investment for the future.

UNDP supports this vision in Armenia by:

·        Nurturing a more inclusive relationship between state and society, through greater civic engagement and state responsiveness;

·        Providing support to the growth of a culture of innovation within government, through the creation of an open governance centre;

·        Encouraging agile management as the standard for development projects within Armenia;

·        Promoting entrepreneurship / start-ups a legitimate path for high-school and university graduates.

Some results so far

  • Four cutting-edge Social Innovation Camps have been held, bringing together a diverse range of actors including students, government officials and creative thinkers. These camps offer inclusive problem solving to Armenia’s most pressing challenges.
 
  • Since 2011, Kolba has received 580 ideas, and incubated 40 start-ups, 14 of which have generated a social impact within government, the civic sector, or the market in Armenia. Examples include “Smart City”, a local governance e- management system introduced in Yerevan, “Matcheli”, an online mapping platform that provides user-generated information on Armenia’s disabled access spaces, and “Yamaka”, an app that supports the learning process of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
 
  • Kolba has supported the government with various cutting-edge approaches under the banner of public sector innovation. This has included a series of “firsts” in Armenia: holding innovation challenges within the key government offices, organizing a pop-up innovation lab in the Ministry of Justice, and supporting the Office of the Prime Minister to crowdsource ideas from active citizens as part of Armenia’s Open Government Partnership processes.
 
  • 25 Kolba Cafes have taken place, aimed at training and idea sharing in innovative approaches, on topics ranging from behavioural insights to start-up marketing to human-centered design.
 
  • Several innovative tools and methodologies have been pioneered and piloted, such as foresight, big and open data and user research. These frontier-breaking approaches overcome traditional barriers inside the development sector and beyond.
 
  • The UN Resident Coordinator spoke at TEDx Yerevan 2014 on ‘hacking development’. The talk focused on how to merge social innovation with development projects. UNDP also hosted a TED Salon in early 2015 on environmental issues and sustainable land management, and a further one in January 2016 devoted to public sector innovation.
 
  • As part of Innovation for Development project, Armenia’s very first Public Sector Innovation Week (#PSIWeek) took place in January 2016. During the week for the first time TEDxYerevan hosted figures from Government and UN, together with artists talking about thought-provoking issues.

Who finances it?



2016

Donor name

Amount contributed per year

European Union

$ 179,254

UNDP Catalytic Fund

$ 50,000

 

 

2017

European Union

$ 135,795

 

 

2018

 

European Union

$ 13,352

Delivery in previous fiscal year

Dec 2015

 $ 37,000

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