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Innovation work in Bærum municipality

Bærum municipality, Norway

Bærum municipality has been working systematically to mainstream innovation in the public sector. Among the achievements to come out of this work so far is a smart grocery shopping service developed and implemented by the  in-home care staff. 

Fostering innovation in the public sector

Bærum Municipality has been working systematically for years to mainstream innovation in the public sector. As part of this work the municipality adopted an innovation strategy in 2014 with the main objective of creating an innovative organisational culture. Increased networking and partnerships with private and third sector actors is at the forefront of the innovation process. The municipality has also developed its own leadership program to support municipal management teams to develop their understanding of innovation and change management.

E-commerce in home care services

Among the concrete initiatives that have been implemented in the municipality is a smart grocery shopping service that is used by the in-home care staff. This initiative, which began in 2015, combines both technological and social innovation and is based on cooperation between the private sector ( food chain) and the public sector (municipality). It allows service users to do their grocery shopping online using iPads during visits from home care personnel. Groceries are then distributed to users by drivers daily at fixed times. Previously home care staff would make a shopping list manually during the first visit, and return with the purchased goods during the second visit. The new solution reduces the number of visits and simplifies the procedure.

Good ideas catch on fast

600 home care service users in Bærum are now using the online shopping solution. Positive outcomes evident as a result of this innovation include:

  • Improved efficiency and cost saving by reducing the number of home care visits required
  • End-users appreciate the opportunity for a more real-life experience of doing shopping in comparison to compiling a shopping list
  • The innovation has already been applied in other municipalities in Norway


Empowering change makers

The idea for the project came from the municipal staff. The municipality’s efforts to strengthen human capital through the innovation strategy and the leadership program have been central to creating conditions that spark innovations such as this among the staff. At the same time daring to take the risk and carrying out full-scale pilot activities was a key challenge that needed to be overcome.

Innovation in procurement leads to productive partnership

The online shopping solution was developed through collaboration between Bærum Home Care Services and food chain, and was implemented using municipal funds. The agreement with food chain is a result of an innovative public procurement process which was carried out in cooperation with the National Program for Supplier Development in Norway.

Key learnings for municipalities

The solution implemented in Bærum highlights opportunities to match existing resources and technological innovation in a different context to serve a social purpose. Formal and informal learning opportunities provided through the leadership program have developed the skills and competence of staff, unlocking the potential for innovation within the municipality.

Development of innovation culture requires experimentation, creativity and new ways of thinking that will always come with some degree of unpredictability. The political and administrative leaders in the municipality should therefore dare to take risks and put new ideas into practice.

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Page last updated September 2016.