Finland to become international leader in experimental culture – Experimental development helps municipalities face changes
- Experimenting with new solutions is often possible as long as there is a will” Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Anu Vehviläinen summed up the lessons learned from the first year and a half of the key project Experimental Finland. Minister Vehviläinen emphasised that municipalities can decide themselves to experiment with new practices in a wide variety of ways without any changes to the legislation.
The municipality of Liperi, for example, is preparing an experiment where children under the age of five would be entitled to 80 hours of early childhood education free-of-charge per month. Liperi has earlier introduced a fee per hour in early childhood education, and the experiment they are now planning would be continuing this development work.
- I urge municipal councils and boards to draw up a strategic policy on experimental development in their municipalities. Examples from forerunners show that experiments can be productive when employees are given a strong mandate to develop their own work, Minister Anu Vehviläinen said.
A survey carried out as part of the digital municipalities experiment of the Ministry of Finance showed that the savings potential of digitalisation both in terms of practices and services in municipalities could amount to hundreds of millions of euros. At the same time improvements could be achieved in clients’ experience of services.
- Making full use of these opportunities requires both experimenting and the inclusion of clients and municipal residents in the process, Minister Vehviläinen reminded.
The Experimental Finland tour, carried out in collaboration with a network of universities of applied sciences, will be taking the message of experimental development to all counties.
- We have been very impressed by the grass-roots development work going on across Finland. We have also detected some structural issues in the process: it isn’t easy to disseminate best practices and small experiments can have trouble finding funding, said Ira Alanko, Project Manager of Experimental Finland.
Experimental Finland is working on a new platform, the Place for Experiment at kokeilunpaikka.fi, to respond to these challenges. The platform will help people to turn ideas into concrete experiments by bringing together the people with ideas with those who have either the skills or the funds to realise those ideas. It will create opportunities for co-creating social innovations, distributing best lessons learned and combining crowdfunding and public funding, for example. The new platform will be launched as part of the Parliament of the Future event in Porvoo on 4 May 2017.
- We are developing the platform through experiments, and the beta version now available online contains only some of the features that will be in the version launched in May, explained Johanna Kotipelto, Senior Specialist responsible for the platform.
Finnish efforts in experimental culture have already attracted international interest for example in the OECD World Government Summit in Dubai. What is unique about the Finnish model is that a change of culture is a political goal in its own right and that grass-root experiments are promoted together with policy measure experiments.
- As a whole, Experimental Finland is making good progress. All the strategic experiments are underway or nearly there. The Government wants to see more small-scale experiments as well as field experiments in style of the basic income experiment, before the end of the parliamentary term. Finland is a forerunner of a new kind of administrative culture, Minister Vehviläinen summed up.
Website of Experimental Finland
Minister Vehviläinen's slide show on Experimental Finland (in Finnish)
Inquiries: Tuomas Vanhanen, Special Adviser to Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Anu Vehviläinen, tel. +358 295 530 216, tuomas.vanhanen(at)vm.fi , Ira Alanko, Project Manager, tel. +358 2951 60028, ira.alanko(at)vnk.fi , Johanna Kotipelto, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 2951 60206, johanna.kotipelto(at)vnk.fi