Experimentation, Partnership and Learning: Insights from a Review of the First Three Years of DFAT’s innovationXchange

This report was created with funding from the iXc. This is one activity under a broader strategic partnership between R4D and iXc. As a learning partner, R4D aimed to help the iXc reflect on their work and adapt their approach moving forward to achieve their intended impact. It was never intended, designed nor positioned as an evaluation. These findings and recommendations were intended for an iXc audience, but made public in the interest of full transparency — and in the spirit of supporting other innovation labs working on similar issues.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) created the innovationXchange (iXc) in 2015. The first three years of implementation (March 2015 – June 2018) were a period of growth and learning which focused on establishing the iXc, building partnerships, and sourcing and testing promising innovations. Over the course of 2018, Results for Development (R4D) carried out an analysis of the iXc with a focus on gathering lessons learned to inform the development and implementation of the DFAT Innovation Strategy for 2018-2021.

The findings are based on data collected through desk research, document review, interviews and focus groups with different stakeholders within and external to DFAT. Findings and recommendations in the report are organized along nine key themes:

  1. Establishing and operating an innovation hub
  2. Setting and communicating a clear vision and theory of change
  3. Seeking new ideas from innovators outside DFAT
  4. Learning how to partner effectively with external organizations
  5. Understanding and building pathways to scale
  6. Encouraging innovation across DFAT’s aid program
  7. Building culture and capability
  8. Supporting innovation at country posts
  9. Approaches to monitoring, evaluation and learning

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