The Transfo

Testing and co-creating an
innovation lab within a public administration

La Transfo is an experimental and inter-public services program initiated in 2011. It seeks to create, with its partner public departments, a prototype of their specific innovation function or a “lab”. To this end, a multi-disciplinary team of residents takes up shop within the department for 7 to 10 weeks to play the role of temporary laboratory. Over a period of 1 to 2 years, the residents work with the public agents, elected officials, citizens and the entire administrative “ecosystem” on a specific topic to test, in a real situation, the future innovation function, its methods and team, its inclusion in the organization chart, etc. Beyond this operational objective, La Transfo is also designed as an open source device allowing for sharing know-how and skills among different public authorities. Inter-communication is primarily by Intertransfos, – days reserved for thinking about, exchanging and evaluating methods and actions and which bring together the teams engaged in the program and the authorities involved in these procedures.

2011: 4 test regions

From 2011 through 2014, La Transfo was conducted in partnership with four pilot regions of France: Bourgogne, Champagne-Ardenne, Pays de la Loire and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

Three of these went on to create their own labs, which have since conducted, on their own, around ten projects on various topics; these labs continue to interchange info on a regular basis.

Learn more

A few ressources on the topic of public innovation :


In France

The Fabrique de l’Hospitalité (Strasbourg), the innovation lab of the Champagne-Ardenne Region, innovation lab of the Paca Region, the  Loire-Atlantique Department experiment


Around the world

The Policy Lab of the British Cabinet Office, the MindLab in Danemark, the Laboratoire Para la Ciudad in Mexico, LabWorks – the first international gathering dedicated to public innovation labs and organised by Nesta (UK),  iTeams – a program launched by Bloomberg (US) and documented in this report.


2016, 10 public authorities in the next four years

Two years after the initial experiment, La Transfo is in the process of preparing a new program to engage ten new public authorities in the process (city halls, sub-regional authorities, regional entities, major public authorities).

To take up this challenge, the protocol is being further detailed and the program adapted to the specific restrictions of each public entity based on the lessons learned from the first La Transfo experiment; this primarily involves shortening the duration of the experiment, reducing the cost for each public authority and strengthening the inter-public entity dimension to produce a structuring effect in the public sector as a whole.

Discover the Transfo (in French)

The temporary lab’s strongpoints

To be efficient, the temporary lab is a lightweight mechanism compatible with budgetary restrictions; it is an across-the-board mechanism that can reach out in several directions, and it is neutral from a political standpoint, which gives it a certain degree of independence in relation to the political agenda.

The door of the lab is always open; every elected official, civil servant, public authority partner is free to observe, via a real situation, the potential of this procedure and to take part in it directly.