Startups are using technology to disrupt a wide spectrum of industries and sectors – from finance and ecommerce to healthcare and food. However, there is one sector that is often overlooked by the startup world, and it’s one that’s in dire need of shaking up – the governmental sphere.
Govtech, the term used to describe the use of emerging tech forms startups and SME’s to solve public sector challenges, has been on the rise over the last couple of years. Despite this, it’s still a very niche area and a novelty to some. The public sector, and ways of working within it, seem to be tailored to larger companies that can accommodate a slower development process.
The status quo is changing, and rapidly. Startups have been working on fresh solutions to increase citizen engagement and provide governments with better data in areas from dealing with waste management, to detecting tax fraud, or simply offering tools for more effective day-to-day work.
Governments, accelerators, and investors around the world have taken note of the potential of Govtech as well, both in terms of economic growth for startups and SMEs, and the transformational potential of bringing public services to match the needs of 21st-century citizens. According to the recent GovTech report, the estimated European GovTech market is currently worth around €116 billion – a massive growth since 2016 when it was worth €20 billion. It’s plain to see that this fast-growing market offers a pool of opportunities for startups and innovative companies, resulting in millions of people getting increasingly better, high-quality public services.
The Govtech market in Lithuania is no exception and has been gaining plenty of momentum recently – visibly highlighted by the emergence of the GovTech Lab. Started by a few digital government enthusiasts as an experimental initiative, GovTech Lab has become an embedded innovation leader in the Lithuanian public sector.
The core focus of the teams is to help the public sector institutions and startups work together to prototype innovative digital solutions. The Lab runs a structured programme called ‘GovTech Challenge Series’ – designed to solve public sector challenges that do not have a clear answer but have the potential to develop innovative digital solutions, co-created with startups and SME’s.
The Lab goes through the public sector challenge by challenge, trying to balance what’s necessary for the public sector and what would be an interesting problem for the entrepreneurs to solve. Since its inception in 2019, GovTech Lab has worked with over 60 different challenges across the public sector – from automatically anonymizing medical images or automating tax complaint submissions, to creating public health monitoring tools or detecting unsafe products online.
Additionally, in 2021 alone, GovTech Lab has worked with 30 Lithuanian startups and companies, helped 18 international GovTech scale-ups explore Lithuania as a potential scaling destination, and co-organised 4 hackathons to foster new talent. To bring the GovTech community together, the Lab organised around 20 different events last year which were visited by over 2,5k people.
The team’s efforts are evident in the results. According to the World Bank, Lithuania ranks among the leading countries in the GovTech field in the GovTech Maturity Index. The government is providing targeted investment into GovTech – last year alone 40 innovative procurements were completed, aiming to solve unique, globally relevant technological challenges. The GovTech Lab itself was internationally recognised several times – since its creation in 2019, it has won the Innovation in Politics Award (2019) and the Best Public Sector Project (2020) awarded by the Project Management Institute. The team keeps making its name worldwide by co-leading an international network of CivicTech and GovTech innovation labs, consisting of such counties as the USA, Canada, Australia, Scotland, Brazil and many more.
Lithuania has truly built a government startup – working with other startups, to help co-create innovative solutions for society and the public sector and to accelerate digital transformation in Lithuania. The country is steadily becoming one of the GovTech leaders in Europe and across the globe. If you want to know more about GovTech in Lithuania, subscribe to the GovTech Lab Lithuania newsletter and stay up to date with the latest GovTech opportunities in Lithuania.
GovTech Lab Lithuania is a project at the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology and has received funding from European Regional Development Fund. Number and name of operational programme measure: 01.2.1-LVPA-V-842 Inogeb LT.