Creating a National Innovation Powerhouse
equipping cities with the infrastructure for economic competitiveness
Why do the most innovative countries often lack formal innovation policies? And why do innovation policy making efforts so often disappoint? As one of the only countries in the Arab Middle East with an organically-grown, domestic startup and tech scene, the Kingdom of Jordan urgently sought an answer to this paradox. How could it actively promote innovation while giving its nascent digital economy the space to grow organically? And how could Jordan's strategic investments in its own innovation landscape not only be cost effective but also allow the most competitive innovators to thrive?
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) sought to strengthen Jordan's innovation landscape, stimulating long-term opportunities for investment in innovative business models and R&D. Adam Kucharski, a partner at OHK Consultants, worked with the EBRD to design the National Center for Innovation (NCI), a novel agency envisioned to unite Jordan’s fragmented innovation ecosystem, address skill mismatches, spur a culture of R&D, and funnel innovative research to Jordan’s business sector.
Together with the OHK team, Adam provided the EBRD and the Government of Jordan with a world-class exercise in design thinking, ranging from a deep quantitative and ethnographic dive into Jordan's existing innovation landscape to benchmarking global best practices in innovation management and administration, as well as organizational scoping and service design resulting in the creation of an agency that is innovative in its own right. Not content to simply list best practices, Adam “Jordanized” them for the NCI, applying a shortlisting methodology that prioritized tools and interventions according to the specific needs of the Jordanian landscape and which leveraged Jordanian legal and institutional enablers of innovation. Adam's organizational design for the NCI took inspiration from service-oriented, high-growth startups, shifting from bureaucratic functional silos to people-centric units designed to deliver citizen services.
This comprehensive design effort far exceeded the initial vision for the NCI, catalyzing its establishment as the flagship institution in Jordan’s promising innovation ecosystem. With matching seed funding from the Jordanian Government, the EBRD is currently establishing the NCI according to this design roadmap.