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Public Policy Incubator

The Public Policy Incubator is an innovative educational program designed to train students to creatively and collaboratively solve real-world public policy problems.

How can we design and implement public policy systems that can significantly improve the lives of citizens and meet the real needs of the publics they serve?

As future actors of the common good, this is the type of question that students must be prepared to answer. Thanks to the mobilization of external partners (public, private, associations) who offer students the opportunity to work on real public interest issues, this program allows them to meet the public and their needs in the field and to acquire solid professional skills.

Coached by design teachers, students develop a concrete, tangible and testable solution to the challenge proposed by the partner. They are free to define the form of this solution, which can take a variety of forms depending on what seems most relevant to the real needs observed in the field. For example, they can prototype a mobile application, a web platform, a serious game, a simulator, a space model, a process and user path redefinition, a paper booklet, a podcast, a data visualization, a campaign on social networks, etc.  

How does it work? 

The Public Policy Incubator is a program for first-year students of the Master in Public Policy and takes place during the second semester (January-May). The program gives students the opportunity to put theoretical learning into practice: divided into small groups (4 to 6 people) and supervised by design teachers, students work throughout the semester on general interest issues, called "challenges", proposed by external partners.

Throughout the process, students benefit from weekly theoretical and practical classes on design methods and public innovation, as well as the personalized support of a coach and the patronage of technical skills for the prototyping of a concrete solution.

An approach based on public policy design

The originality of this program lies in the methodology used, which results from public policy design, a field of action and reflection that was structured in France in the early 2000s, notably around "La 27ème Région". 

Given the increasing complexity of contemporary issues, both technical (digital transition, development of Internet uses) and societal (change in citizens' posture, relationship to information), public action must renew the form of its responses. Through its ability to articulate a point of view (a problem, a vision) and the formalization of concrete measures, design is one of the approaches that can renew the forms of public action, particularly by questioning its uses and its concrete experience for its users and employees. 

More and more public actors are experimenting with the contributions of design to rethink the way public action is conceived and deployed by introducing: 

  • new ways of looking at things: for example, focusing on the "user" and "experience"
  • new ways of working: for example, the organization on a "project " basis, the integration of users in the design of systems ("co-design", "participative design")
  • new design methods: for example, the "prototyping" of systems to test public policies before their general deployment (experiments, pilots, etc.)

Participate in the programme

Eligibility: The Public Policy Incubator is open to all first-year students in the Master in Public Policy at the School of Public Affairs. Students must have a minimum level of B2 in French to participate in the programme as the course is taught in French and the students will have to go on field trips and lead interviews that require proficiency in speaking French.

Schedule: Students are informed by email when the call for applications opens in the first half of November.

Selection process: students are selected on the basis of their motivation, their understanding of the program and their curiosity for public innovation. 

Please note: You may only participate in one Policy Lab program. If you are applying to the Gender and Public Policy Certificate or the SDG Initiative, you cannot apply to the Policy Incubator. 

Workload: This is a 48-hour course equivalent to 6 ECTS. In addition to the 4 hours dedicated each week in your schedule, please note that the January pre-course week is also dedicated to the project. The final presentations with the partners are organized in mid-May. Students who wish to apply to the IPP are invited to check that this schedule is compatible with their external commitments (internship, professional activity, etc.).

Eligibility: all public, private or associative organizations involved in solving public interest problems with a high social impact, in France or abroad, can submit a challenge to the Public Policy Incubator. 

Schedule: The call for challenges 2023 closed in October 2023. 

If you want to be informed about the launch of the call for challenges 2024 or test your challenge ideas now, please contact us by email at: policy.lab@sciencespo.fr 

Partners' commitment: 

  • Facilitate access to the field, users and stakeholders, expertise and/or relevant documentation so that students can understand the proposed challenge, especially during the week of immersion
  • Participate in the key stages of the project: immersion days (January), intermediate presentations (1.5 hours in February, 1.5 hours in March), final feedback day on campus in the presence of all partners (May)
  • Designate a contact person as a privileged interlocutor to facilitate the follow-up of the challenge 

There is no mandatory financial commitment to propose a challenge but you can help us develop the Public Policy Incubator by supporting the School of Public Affairs' pedagogical project. 

Partners of previous editions:

  • Public actors: AFD (Agence Française de Développement), ANSSI (Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d'information), Banque des territoires, CAF de Paris, Centre des monuments nationaux, CNIL, DINUM, DITP, Grand Hôpital de l'Est Francilien (GHEF), INA (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel), Institut de France, Métropole de Nice, Métropole Européenne de Lille (MEL), Ministère de l'Education Nationale, de la Jeunesse et des Sports, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice (ATIGIP), Ministry of Solidarity and Health, Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, Inter-ministerial Mission for Apprenticeship, National Forestry Office (ONF), Onisep, Prefecture of Ille-et-Vilaine, Prefecture of Occitanie - SGAR, Prefecture of Police of Paris - DTPP, Presidency of the Republic, City of Paris, City of Saint-Denis. 
  • Private organizations: Carrefour, Cité internationale des arts, Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale, Groupe La Poste, Groupe SNCF, LVMH.
  • Associations and NGOs: Association Addictions France, French Red Cross, Démocratie Ouverte, Emmaüs Connect, FNAB (Fédération Nationale d'Agriculture Biologique), France Digitale, GROUPE SOS, Jane Goodall Institute France, UNCCAS (Union Nationale des Centre Communaux d'Action Sociale), WWF France.
  • Academic partners and research centers: CEVIPOF, Health Chair of Sciences Po and Institut Pasteur
  • European institutions: European Commission (Representation in Paris)
  • International organizations: OECD

Support Us

The Public Policy Incubator is one of the programs that form the DNA of the School of Public Affairs' educational project. Each year, more than 100 students acquire the skills that will enable them to invent new types of public policies in their future positions, in line with the real needs of citizens and climate issues. 

To continue the development of this innovative and ambitious educational program, we need support. 

If you would like to contribute to the development of this project through sponsorship, a grant or any other form that would best suit your organization and discuss the formats for valuing this support, you can contact: lea.douhard@sciencespo.fr 

Discover the projects of the previous editions

Library of projects

Discover the projects realized in the previous editions of the program. This library is likely to develop in the coming months. 

You can explore the details of the projects by clicking on the “card” dedicated to the project. You can also use the “filter” function to explore the thematics which are the most relevant for you.

With the support of

Project Liberty is an international non-profit organization mobilizing a global alliance of technologists, academics, policymakers and citizens to build a more responsible approach to technology development, including a more open internet infrastructure.

Project Liberty Institute was founded with our academic partners Stanford University, Sciences Po and Georgetown University to ensure ethical governance is embedded and prioritized in the development of new technology.

Our mission is to enhance ethical governance by supporting timely, actionable research on digital technology and responsible innovation. The Institute serves as an international meeting ground for technologists, policymakers, academia, civil society, entrepreneurs and governance experts. Together, these interdisciplinary partners and leaders from the public and private sector create frameworks for how we build, invest in, deploy and govern new technologies. 

Launched in 2021 by founder and civic entrepreneur Frank McCourt, Jr., Project Liberty is a registered 501c3.


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