Co-creation in Puglia: The role of the in-house technical partner for the innovation and development of a Public Administration

InnovaPuglia since several decades the ‘technological arm’ of Puglia Region Institution, deals with the technological innovation and pilot development hosting new systems and methodologies able to support the Public Administration. One of the most recent and interesting challenges is the co-creation of digital public services that InnovaPuglia is implementing also by means of knowledge exchange with European and regional initiatives such as CITADEL and Apulian ICT Living Labs based on strategies and studies such as the Quadruple Helix (Chesbrough and Carayannis) and the EVLE model (Rokkan and Hirschmann).

The idea of the technological in-house company is not to foster isolated co-creation initiatives, but to link them together as a sequence of actions aimed at:

  • Prepare the PA to welcome new ideas coming from final users/citizens and enable them to incorporate their needs.
  • Support users/citizens to better interact with the PA.
  • Empower user/citizens to drive collaboration with actors of the Quadruple Helix: Citizens, SMEs, Academy and PAs.

Let’s have a look to the two running initiatives.

The Apulian ICT Living Labs

In recent years, the innovation policies of Regione Puglia have found fertile ground in the tools made available by Apulian ICT Living Labs. In particular, the strategic approach based on the innovation methodology is managed by testing a new model of cooperation in regional socioeconomic dynamics between private stakeholders and public interests in a so-called Quadruple Helix model. The idea of the model is to move from a rigid 'silos' structure to watertight compartments held by government, industry, academics and participants in favor of an environment that promotes teamwork, collaboration and the sharing of ideas. In this way the Quadruple Helix approach can create a new shared value that benefits all participants in what becomes an innovation ecosystem. The added value is the improvement of social conditions and business performance throughout the ecosystem rather than individually, with technology that has the task of creating relationships between the actors. Two main routes has been followed according to main literature guidelines:

  • the involvement of multiple users in the creation process;
  • the use the real-world to test ideas.

Following these pillars, InnovaPuglia and Regione Puglia have defined a survey to gather the needs of the regional stakeholders on the demand for public innovation and a series of ICT applications have been tested to meet this demand. Progressively a local network of 74 Living Labs has been created to test the technological solutions proposed by companies in support of universities and research centers through a process of co-design involving public actors (Local Administrations, NGOs, Citizens Associations, Museums, Public Schools, Hospitals). The result achieved the design of a regional network of good practices for the creation of the Apulian Living Lab, which is not the sum of the individual Living Labs mentioned above, but an integrated network of local communities linked through ICT applications in eight different thematic domains (

  • Environment, Security and Territorial Protection.
  • Cultural Heritage and Tourism
  • Electronic Governance by the PA
  • Health, wellness and socio-cultural dynamics
  • Competitive and renewable Energy
  • Training and Education
  • Transport and Sustainable Mobility
  • Digital Creative Industry

The technological factor plays a fundamental role in strengthening and promoting relationships: mechanisms and algorithms of Artificial Intelligence are applied to discover relationships not evoked by discussion in groups. While in recent literature, the relationship between the four different helices and the economic performance of the communities is not assumed for certain, in the Living Lab Pugliese some growth factors have been noted.
An additional advantage in the Apulian ICT Living Lab approach is to respond to the needs of public innovation through the development of specific communities on an ICT application, with the following categories defined:

  • Smart Cities & Communities (set of municipalities)
  • Knowledge Communities (set of schools, museums and cultural entities)
  • Business Communities (set of companies associations).

For these categories, sharing actions have also involved social tools such as focus groups, panel groups, workshops, demolabs, creating challenges if necessary in order to achieve the project goal in a short time and with greater returns in terms of innovative public services.

This allowed us to define a map of all the stakeholders constituted in 2018 of 193 SMEs, 182 final users and 91 research laboratories that offer solutions to public demand, all supported by socio-philosophical concepts that base success on co-operation rather than on individual initiatives.

The Apulian ICT Living Lab is a practice that is able to design a new vision of socio-economic growth based on a user-driven methodology, applying Quadruple Helix development mechanisms in which innovation is the key driver for relations between the parties involved, oriented towards a better sharing of socio-economic utilities and starting from the public demand of users.

The CITADEL platform

CITADEL project is based on Hirschman and Rokkan studies that defined the EVLE (Entry-Voice-Loyalty-Exit) model applicable to members of an organization (in this case a Public Administration), which perceives how much the organization demonstrates the quality or a benefit for the member: he can take part (Entry), withdraw from the relationship (Exit); or, he can make a complaint or a change proposal (Voice) or remain loyal because he is satisfied with the relationship (Loyalty).
CITADEL consists of 3 main strands:

  • Understand To Transform: to know the reason for entry or exit of the public system
  • Co-create To Transform: to provide the means to facilitate the co-creation process between all the stakeholders involved
  • ICT – Enablers To Transform: to support the other two, through the provision of ICT tools that enable to implement the CITADEL approach

Starting from these 3 areas, InnovaPuglia has implemented a case-based use on regional tourism activities with Regione Puglia, but over time has expanded to new issues such as the use of open data and the simplification and security of access to digital public services. Following a similar approach to the Living Labs laboratories, a preliminary phase saw the creation of two workshops in parallel sessions dedicated to tourism operators, the Public Administration and ICT experts.

In the workshop "How to kill tourism" dedicated to the COCREATE-TO-TRANSFORM strand, individuals were interviewed on how to improve tourism in Puglia starting from what should be eliminated to destroy it; after the 3 most common themes were chosen, the discussion subtasks were created in which they reconstructed the flow of the topic concerning elimination.

In the "Digital Maturity Model" workshop focused on the UNDERSTAND-TO-TRANSFORM study, the aim was to promote discussion on the role of public administrations in offering digital services to citizens starting from a shared dialogue between the invited stakeholders on a possible model of digital maturity that each PA to evaluate in which phase is the process of digitization of the PA.

Based on the information obtained in the workshops, some co-creation and PA assessment systems and methodologies were modeled following the InnovaPuglia guidelines and overview, such as the Privacy Literacy Exercise to assess the knowledge of the GDPR privacy with a response of 179 feedbacks, the study of willingness of the PA to 24.4% of selected users, the Italian customization of the CITADEL Innovation Platform ( focused on the co-creation activities and that is on running at the moment and the DIGIMAT tool that will be launched in next months.