A fake brick wall, beanbags and a no-tie policy will help public servants and business minds solve global poverty.
The federal government has allocated $140 million over four years to the Google-like ideas hub – dubbed the InnovationXchange – aimed at improving the results of Australian aid programs.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop acknowledges the hub will challenge the deeply traditional hierarchy of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as being a novelty for the government.
It would also send shivers down the spine of bureaucrats who front Senate estimates hearings.
But it would be worth the risks, Ms Bishop said.
“We cannot waste time and cannot keep throwing money at a problem in the same way we’ve always done and expect there to be a different outcome.”
One of the first projects is a partnership with the philanthropy foundation of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to help developing countries gather health data for better allocation of resources.
Australia will toss in $20 million.
Mr Bloomberg was unable to attend Monday’s launch but in a video message said the investment showed the government was challenging the status quo to solve tough problems.
“I often say if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it,” he said.
Danish climate change sceptic Bjorn Lomborg is on the hub’s international reference group along with the Seven Network’s chief operating officer Ryan Stokes.
Aid group Oxfam said the hub’s launch was undermined by talk of further budget cuts.
“The government has already cut Australian aid to the bone,” spokeswoman Pam Anders said, adding more cuts would mean less innovation.