At a GovTech Event, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, asked a room of 500+ people who represented a startup. One of my Accenture colleagues stood up, and it hit me like a bus. Could we in Accenture feel so passionately to stand up to that call? Could I have stood up?

Personally, I’m no stranger to the startup community. I began my career in a not for profit startup before moving into public administration and Accenture. It was the beginning of the dotcom era, and one of my career highlights was the work I did during this time to improve voter registration in the Philippines by 200%, using the latest identity management technologies. This experience taught me a lot about what it means to deliver outcomes in public service, because in a startup, you feel you own the problem. So why does this matter?

The lessons of Formula E

Let’s take a brief detour to the world of Formula E auto racing – an example I used before in understanding the evolution of public service. Now, I am no petrolhead, and I no longer own a car. But I love beautiful cars, especially those that are eco-friendly. Formula E began as a startup. It brought an exciting sport into a new digital age. It provides an immersive environment that welcomes and engages kids and allows fans to interact with drivers. Some fans do not even attend the races to see the track! This entire industry evolved from a startup ecosystem, gathering pace around a few passionate individuals. It’s the new world of digital, owned by thousands of colourful logos.

How to combine passion and purpose

Along with my personal startup experience, what the rise of Formula E auto racing illustrates is three-fold:

  • Startups are personal endeavours. The everyday decisions you make can incrementally shift the course of your business. To not lose sight of why you got into the business in the first place, be your true self and keep your vision in mind.
  • Startups are a world of passion – for technology, outcomes and originality. But with passion comes excess – sometimes over delivering and sometimes under delivering. To realize success, it’s important to integrate short- and long-term needs.
  • Startups are focused on results, not the process. So it is critically important for public service organisations to harness their own processes to provide the oxygen needed for a startup to deliver.

More than a funding method, a delivery script or a regulatory or policy framework, startups need to take the time to learn and understand the strengths of public service (and vice versa). Once again, it’s a new digital era, where public service organisations have the opportunity to harness and cultivate the promising startup ecosystem that’s reshaping Europe and helping it achieve its core values.

The value of working with startups

Even though Accenture is a large corporate organization, we have a focused strategy to collaborate with startups. We understand the value they add to service delivery. That’s why we often partner with them.

For example, in Finland, we worked with a local startup to create an artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem that includes a chatbot to help global investors navigate the country’s tax policies and immigration legislation when making local investments. Unlike traditional chatbots, our intelligent chatbot offers much more enriched information than simple answers to questions. By working together, we combined local knowledge with deep technology expertise to drive economic development. We were also able to deliver the solution faster and ensure that it aligned to the government’s larger-scale processes.

Reflecting on this collaboration, when Mr. Trudeau asked startups to stand, I probably could have stood with my colleagues at the GovTech event. And I’m excited to continue this type of partnership with startups to deliver innovative outcomes in public service.

If you’d like to learn more about the power of partnering with startups, let’s connect via LinkedIn or email.


When the world moves, move ahead.

Gabriel Bellenger

Managing Director – Consulting, Public Service, Revenue Lead

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