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Analysis: Mission-Oriented Innovation

14. Feb 2022

Dive into our new survey with +200 answers on mission-oriented innovation. The insights help us understand an emerging field in constant movement – and point us in the direction of how we might succeed


The survey aims to understand ongoing missions practices, challenges, and areas for further development of the international community of practice. Here on out, we define missions as initiatives that address grand societal challenges that are cross-sectoral, ambitious, and measurable.

Mission-oriented innovation establishes a clear outcome towards the societal challenges and an overarching objective for achieving a specific mission (e.g., setting clear goals and roadmaps towards carbon neutrality or approaching the system differently to radical change mental health for young people). Singular, unconnected interventions (e.g., challenges prizes, generally applied research) are not considered missions, while they may contribute to mission-oriented innovation portfolios aiming to achieve the mission.

The essence of the survey results and data analysis are summarized in the report (download below), including the most surprising and important findings.

Key highlights

  • 64 % of the respondents are currently involved with a mission or mission-oriented innovation. Of those not now engaged in specific mission work, 50 % are planning to start soon
  • Only 25 % of the respondents state that mission work has a clear target
  • Only 11 % of the respondents state that the mission has a clear plan and process for monitoring and evaluation

Key challenges

Working with mission-oriented innovation is an emerging field that lacks good practices, tools, and methodologies. Respondents highlight the following challenges

Financial challenges

  • Aligning resources across government or organizations
  • Lack of risk capital and high-risk, high-reward investments
  • Lack of targeted resources

Structural challenges

  • Changing current organizational models
  • To have the implementation of the mission fit into current budgeting timelines and structures
  • Ensuring coordination between different policy bodies in various policy fields

Political challenges

  • Going beyond policy and electoral cycles 

Methodological challenges

  • Lack of mission-based portfolio tools
  • Lack of evaluation tools (learning and measurement)
  • Lack of analytical framework to better understand different types of missions and their respective merits

Building and sustaining the mission roadmap

  • Collecting the correct data and insights from the mission portfolio to re-feed to the mission work (e.g., new projects, initiatives, or experiments)
  • Balancing both short-term and long-term projects
  • Creating agility and adaptability in the portfolio

The most significant risks of possibly failing

  • Effect of silos
  • Keeping momentum and motivation over time
  • Lack of continued support

Download the full report, read more about the methodology behind the survey and dive into more data from the +200 respondents.

The survey is conducted in collaboration with Mission Action Lab – OECD and OECD Observatory of Public Innovation.

Mission Playbook

Read and use our Mission Playbook on a design-driven approach to launching and driving missions right here. The Playbook is always in beta, as we keep developing our methods and expanding our missions knowledge.

Sara Gry Striegler

Director of Social Transition

Phone +45 6110 4778
Social LinkedIn

Do you want to hear more about the report or our work with missions?

Christina Melander

Director of Digital Transition

Phone +45 2946 2922
Social LinkedIn

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