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Accenture presents the Harvard public sector innovation award

Take part in the public sector innovation challenge.


The need for innovation in the public sector has never been greater. Citizens are expecting customized and real-time services, while shifting demographics, long-term fiscal challenges and global inequities are pressing governments to respond. Meeting these challenges will require major innovation across the entire value chain of government–from programs to production to provision–and all delivered with more efficiency, equity and transparency.

To help address this government innovation challenge, Harvard University and Accenture have launched the Public Sector Innovation Award.

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About the Award

The Public Sector Innovation Award encourages Harvard University students to apply their creative energy to help solve pressing public sector challenges and to foster the next generation of government leaders. Students gain the opportunity to:

  • Engage with government officials to identify problems, challenges and opportunities;sample only

  • Create a project proposal for a product or service that addresses the challenge;

  • Develop it for government to use to create public value.

The annual Public Sector Innovation Award winner will receive $10,000 in grant funding and incubation space to develop the idea. Award finalists will receive $1,000 in grant funding. The cash award is to help defray living expenses, travel costs and other out-of-pocket expensees associated with developing the idea.

This year’s winner was acknowledged at a special event on April 3, 2014.

Eligibility and Criteria
All Harvard University degree candidates in good academic standing are eligible for the Public Sector Innovation Award. The projects shall not be part of a faculty-sponsored research project. Team projects and cross-school projects are highly encouraged. Students and/or team winners of the Public Sector Innovation Award will be selected based on the quality, clarity and feasibility of their submission. Applicants must demonstrate innovative and entrepreneurial ideas related to government that show great potential for creating public sector value while being achievable in a reasonable timeframe. Preference will be given to proposals that are new and creative and demonstrate leadership and initiative on the part of the applicant.

Learn more and apply at

2014 Winners

2014 Winner of Public Sector Innovation Award

RapidSOS is developing a platform of products to transform emergency communication. The Company’s one-button 911 alert developed in collaboration with nearly 70 dispatch centers & system integrators transforms a 2-5 minute conversation into a 3-second push notification that transmits all of the key information dispatchers need to respond to an emergency. RapidSOS’ geolocalized emergency alert allows institutional clients to directly warn people in harm’s way based on their location.

2013 Winners

2013 Winner of Public Sector Innovation Award

OpportunitySpace, a firm developed by two Harvard Kennedy School students, helps government and its partners improve the utilization and end-use of government-owned land and buildings.

OpportunitySpace has developed a unique methodology, platform and tools which enable government organizations and stakeholders to create measurable value by activating relevant data on facilities and land in order to reduce waste, measure opportunity costs, share resources and capitalize on assets to achieve social and economic policy goals.

2012 Winners

First Place Winner of the 2012 Public Sector Innovation Award

Instiglio, a company started by Harvard students, aims to apply a social impact bond model to emerging market contexts. Social impact bonds allow governments to contract with a third party to fill gaps in available services, but unlike a standard procurement arrangement, these contracts are only paid if they achieve the desired outcome. In the United States, federal, state and local governments have been examining social impact bonds as a means of improving their local communities during tight budget cycles through a pay-for-success framework.

Instiglio is developing social impact bonds for the US as well as emerging markets. Current projects include pilot programs for the government of Botswana and other governments in sub-Saharan Africa.

Second Place Winner of the 2012 Public Sector Innovation Award

One Degree, a project led by Harvard Kennedy School student Rey Faustino, is a web and mobile application for social services that aims to increase citizen access to support services and create awareness of available programs in local communities. 

The “Yelp-like” web platform allows users to access, review, rate and share information about local non-profit, government and community resources in much the same way that individuals share information about restaurants and other venues on applications.

One Degree is working to build a network of organizations, schools and other community institutions to support information sharing about the app itself and its services. Faustino hopes that allowing information to be spread by the users of these programs and benefits will shift power back to low-income and immigrant communities.