In the modern troubled times, where the crisis but also opportunities for innovation co-exist, the public sector must not only react to the crisis, but also pro-actively solve problems and seek new opportunities for value creation. As a consequence, its role is changing from what is known so far, to one that must also embrace a strategic and systematic effort to innovate. In fact, in addition to the public sector’s role in catalysing innovation in the wider economy, there is an urgent need to power innovation within the public sector itself in order to achieve productivity and efficiency gains, foster the creation of public value and better respond to societal challenges.

The SONNETS Innovation Identification Framework , a key outcome of the SONNETS project is an innovative methodological framework that will accelerate the transformation of the public sector into an innovation breeding carrier. The goal of the SONNETS Framework is twofold and lies insupporting innovation both in the public sector – with either internal or external focus, targeting the former’s modernization , and through the public sector with a focus on other policy domains, pursuing its transformation into an innovation driver .

The Framework emphasizes the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a key enabler for innovation and pursues its goal by means of coupling findings on emerging ICTs and trends with insights on current societal challenges and needs. Such coupling is carried out on the basis of specifying and bringing into the foreground specific innovative solutions for the adoption of the identified technologies and the confrontation of the identified needs respectively. The Framework further defines a set of impact assessment criteria and feasibility assessment criteria, in order to identify the innovation potential of the solutions under consideration for the public sector. The former are used to evaluate the magnitude of the potential effects of the identified solutions, whereas the latter are employed to assess the research needs, which the technological, socio-economic and ethical implications of these solutions translate into. The rating of the specified solutions against both the dimensions of impact and feasibility allows to distinguish and, possibly prioritize, those solutions that hold greater value for the public sector, and lays the foundations for designing a concrete time plan of actions and a set of recommendations for their implementation in practice.

From a methodological point of view, the Framework relies basically on the methods of desk-based research, interviews with IT experts and focus groups, engaging stakeholders with a multidisciplinary background, and encompasses six steps or phases as follows:

  • the identification of emerging technologies and trends that make a difference today in other sectors (technology identification)
  • the assessment of these technologies in the domains originally met (technology assessment)
  • their correlation to the public sector needs and societal challenges on the basis of existing services and applications as well as new innovation solutions that may benefit from these technologies (technology pre-selection)
  • the evaluation of these services’ and solutions’ innovation potential in terms of both their impact and feasibility (innovation identification)
  • the selection among the former, of those that make more sense to be ported to the public sector (scenario building) the evaluation and ratification of the overall findings (results validation)

The SONNETS Innovation Identification Framework is going to guide the innovation identification activities within the SONNETS work-plan, but can also be used as a self-standing innovation framework for the public sector.