Breakthrough In Instilling Innovation Culture In East Nusa Tenggara

A group of people standing on stairs in front of the Public Service Mall Timor-Atambua

A group of people standing on stairs in front of the Public Service Mall Timor-Atambua

“Innovations are blooming in this province this year.” 

Flouri Rita Wuisan, Head of the Organization Bureau of the Provincial Government of East Nusa Tenggara 


For the first time in its history, the Provincial Government (PG) of East Nusa Tenggara (ENT) implemented its provincial innovation competition in 2022. The competition was successful in identifying 86 public service innovations developed by the PG offices and 22 LGs across the province. The competition, led by the Organization Bureau, selected and awarded 20 best innovations.  

In the past, finding innovations was not easy work for the Bureau, even at the provincial level. Although the national policy on “One Agency One Innovation” had been launched in 2014, the Organization Bureau had limited knowledge and tools to implement the policy. They only publicized the national policies and innovation competitions, without any further efforts to assist provincial and local government offices in nurturing and reporting their innovations. As a result, limited innovations were submitted to the Public Service Innovation Competitions (KIPPs) organized by the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (KEMENPAN-RB), the Innovative Government Awards (IGA) hosted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA), and the Subnational Government Rewards (PPD) led by the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS). KEMENPAN-RB’s database shows that the province was absent in the list of Top 99 Best National Innovation for the past nine years (2014-2022). 

The Bureau had limited capacity and knowledge to provide TA to potential innovators to nurture their innovation ideas into good innovations that can be competitive at the national level. The innovators need to be supported to produce complete documentation: formulating a problem statement and showing its novelty aspects, the significance of the innovation, and its impacts for the public. Potential innovators were often trapped in a mindset that innovation should be through high-tech applications with high-cost resources. They forgot that the basic essence of innovation is to solve the problems, with or without an IT application involved. Changing the mindset about public service innovation was definitely needed. 

To address these challenges, USAID ERAT worked intensively with the PG of ENT to create an innovation ecosystem at the provincial level while developing the capacity of relevant provincial government agencies such as the Organization Bureau and the Development Planning, Research and Development Board (BAPPELITBANGDA). USAID ERAT complemented this by creating “top-down and horizontal incentives” by implementing a workshop on the provincial innovation hub in Labuan Bajo, ENT, in September 2022.  

KEMENPAN-RB, MOHA, and BAPPENAS jointly encouraged the PG of ENT, together with those of North Sumatra, Banten, and West Kalimantan, to develop innovation hubs to establish their innovation ecosystems. A formal MOU with KEMENPAN-RB was signed at the event. In addition to the top-down incentive, the workshop also facilitated a horizontal incentive through peer-to-peer learning from more advanced PGs in promoting innovations. The targeted PGs were then facilitated to formulate action plans to develop and operationalize their provincial innovation hubs.  


USAID ERAT then assisted the PG of ENT to initiate its first local public service innovation competition to harness best practices initiated by both the PG and LGs. To support this activity, USAID ERAT and the Provincial Government established an incubation team with members from the Organization Bureau, BAPPELITBANGDA, academia, the Provincial Ombudsman, senior innovators, and media. The Activity then trained them on how to nurture and recognize public service innovations, to assist innovators to promote and to make good documentation of the innovations, including preparing a well-written story about their innovations. These trained key persons could support the provincial government in conducting coaching clinics for potential innovators and also serve as evaluators for the first provincial innovation competition.  

This dual strategy worked well on the ground. Before the competition was launched, the PG invited all provincial offices and 22 LGs to Kupang to share their knowledge and experience about public sector innovations. USAID ERAT then supported the incubation team to assist the potential innovators in identifying the real problems that need to be solved with the innovation, novelty aspect of the innovations, and how to measure the outcome/impact of the innovations. The event successfully changed the mindset of the civil servants in ENT to realize that innovation does not necessarily mean high cost, high technology, and human resource intensive. Several potential innovators from the PG’s and LGs’ offices realized that their work in the past could also be considered innovations. 

This change in mindset has had a significant impact for the promotion of innovation in ENT. On November 1, 2022, the PG launched the first provincial innovation competition to collect and select the Top 10 of Implemented Innovations and Top 10 of Early-Stage Innovations. The main objective of the competition was to accommodate the new innovations that had grown as the result of mindset change of potential innovators. By the submission date, the PG received 86 innovations from PG and LG offices. This flourishing result has made the PG and the incubation team confident that the province can make a significant change in KEMENPAN-RB’s 2023 KIPP and MOHA’s 2023 IGA. While ENT has just started seeding and nurturing their innovations, it is expected that they can quickly harvest them to win the competitions and, more importantly, to improve the quality of public services.  

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