A global Anti-Corruption Innovation Lab

Project description

U4 Trial

The U4 Anti Corruption Center is global think tank dedicated to support development agencies with the development of effective anticorruption programmes and policies. Based at the Chris Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway, U4s´experts deliver tailored made knowledge services – multi-stakeholder workshops, research projects, training, programme design – in over 30 countries. Donor agencies also rely on U4s helpdesk and training programmes to access state of the art expertise to combat corruption.



The complexity, scale and urgency of anti-corruption challenges in international development demand a constant to innovate, to close the gap between knowledge, policy and practice.  In 2017, U4 approaches with a request to accompany them on a journey to find more innovative approaches to serve their partners.

Like other think-tanks and knowledge institutions in the field, the team was curious to learn more about methods from the social innovation such as open innovation, systems thinking and design thinking. They say potential in new strategic alliances with other players in the anti-corruption field. The team was also eager to expand their expert role with new skills on process design and facilitation. With U4-trial, they created a collaborative ´playground´ to find news forward.

Results and lessons learned

In 2018, Simone and Remko designed and facilitated a U4-Trial ´switch-on´ event in Berlin that brought together a rich group of prominent practitioners, policy makers and anti-corruption academics. The group engaged in a systemic analysis of their field. How to close the gap between the available knowledge on methods and content on the one hand, and mainstream practices and policies on the other. How to build new partnerships that combine experimentation, real-time evaluation and smart strategies for scaling? How to create space for ´alternative´ forms of knowledge, ´ordinary´ citizens and local conditions? The switch-off event led to new insights, connections and collaborations.

A recording of the results can be found here.An account of the event can be found here.

Since the switch off-event, we have continued to accompany U4s team on the following questions and challenges:

  1. How to find a balance between incremental innovation driven from inside the team and bolder efforts with external partners and stakeholders?
  2. How to create space in U4s portfolio of services for longer term flexible process in support of their development partners in the global south?
  3. How to calibrate the relation of U4´s avant-garde position with larger innovation programmes ongoing at the Chris Michelsen Institute
  4. How to develop a better balance between process- and content knowledge in the team

The road ahead

Currently we are working with the team to strengthen their facilitation capacities. We also offer hands-on support to the design of tailor-made processes around the world. We´re looking forward to weaving in the insights and innovations of the last few years into a new strategy 2021-2025, that we are jointly developing throughout the remainder of 2020