Arune Matelyte, Co-Founder & Manager, GovTech Lab Lithuania, Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology, Lithuania

Oleh Yun Xuan Poon

Women in GovTech Special Report 2021.

How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

As a manager of GovTech Lab Lithuania, my role is to lead a wonderful group of people that are working tirelessly to make sure that the public sector can experiment with technology and find the best digital solutions out there to solve its challenges. All of this while focusing on encouraging startups and SMEs to build these innovative digital solutions.

We go 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 our inception in 2019, we have worked on 60 different challenges across the public sector – from automatically anonymising medical images or automating tax complaint submissions, to creating school public health monitoring tools or detecting unsafe products online.

What was the most impactful project you worked on this year?

In 2021 we focused on taking our processes and impact to another level. Together with the team, we managed to secure a few million euros of funding for over 30 public sector organisations to test a novel procurement method – a design contest. This allowed us to scale from solving 10 to 40 challenges at the same time, while simultaneously providing funding for each pilot. Can’t wait to see the results!

What is one unexpected learning from 2021?

Playing is as essential as structural reforms to bring more innovation. Sometimes playing is even more crucial to bring about change in people, their mindset and routines.

What’s your favourite memory from the past year?

Although GovTech Lab activities started back in 2019, the full team started working together in February to March 2020 – just in time for the pandemic 😊 This meant that most of our activities over the last few years have been online. So after numerous days and months working from home, online events and workshops, project kick-offs or closing ceremonies, it was wonderful to finally meet the GovTech community in person in September for the networking event. This was definitely a highlight and a very rewarding day, to be able to see everyone and talk with all the wonderful changemakers that we were working alongside for so long.

What’s a tool or technique you’re excited to explore in 2022?

As a team, we would like to further explore the design contest as a potential procurement method for innovative digital solutions. It is great to see that some organisations, such as the Bank of Lithuania, are starting to test it with their own funding, which is both amazing and exciting.

What are your priorities for 2022?

Three priorities come to mind for 2022 – learning, scaling, playing.

First, as a team, we want to create more opportunities for learning for public sector employees. We want everyone to get excited about the potential of innovation, know the fundamentals of different technologies and be able to find ways to procure innovation. In a way, this is our method of scaling as well. We want to make sure that our impact is not limited to a few organisations, therefore next year our priority is to rethink how we work and find ways to scale without compromising the quality of our work. Finally, while doing all that, my personal priority is to keep playing and experimenting – that‘s what we are here for.

Who are the mentors and heroes that inspire you?

Usually, inspiration for me stems not from specific people but from situations or conversations that can involve different people every time.

What gets you up in the morning?

Coffee 😊