By Chad Mullen and Ed Long
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
Even in times of economic prosperity, state agencies in Oklahoma may not have the resources to develop and launch innovative tools for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery and program administration. Fortunately, cross-sector collaboration makes it possible for state government to partner with entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers to create win-win relationships — benefiting the partners directly involved and the entire state.
Creative Oklahoma and Cross-Sector Innovations have partnered to showcase pioneering social innovation initiatives in Oklahoma, as well as opportunities for creative collaboration among business, government and nonprofits. One example with tremendous potential is partnership between the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) and i2E, Inc. to explore the development of mutually beneficial cross-sector relationships.
For example, state leaders can readily identify areas where a technological innovation could spur administrative or service delivery efficiencies and improve outcomes if resources for development were available. The process of developing, testing and refining new technology bears some risk and typically includes a few failed starts — risks not typically borne using taxpayer dollars.
By facilitating dialogue among state agency leaders and entrepreneurs and exploring common interests, solutions can be developed that address challenges faced by government and result in a future return for the developer though broader scale distribution. The implementation phase allows for feedback from end users and an opportunity for refinement by the developer. This model is also being used to drive change in cities across the nation.
From the perspective of state government, these partnerships offer tremendous potential for streamlining processes, improving outcomes and saving taxpayer dollars. New resources and out-of-industry thinking provide capacity that doesn’t exist at the scale needed. Beyond agency walls, increased social innovation and entrepreneurship contribute to economic development and the growing startup culture in our state.
Though not all challenges faced by government will be a fit for this type of cross-sector collaboration, the engagement of public- and private-sector thought leaders to identify opportunities for doing business is beneficial for all Oklahomans. To be clear, this particular model isn’t about privatization of services. Rather, it’s based on private-sector development of innovative tools and technology that can be used by government. Resources are pooled and scaled in practical ways that promote cutting-edge advancements and reduce government spending.
Oklahoma has an abundance of resources yet to be tapped, and has the opportunity to serve as a national model for working across sectors to leverage innovation and creativity. We look forward to hearing your comments, suggestions and ideas as we work together to make Oklahoma stronger. Join the discussion at http://stateofcreativity.com/blog/.
Mullen is OCAST’s director of government relations and strategic initiatives. Long is principal of Oklahoma City-based Cross-Sector Innovations.