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The Dating Game: Partnerships for the Future

Innovation Times

Posted by JR Reagan on May 10, 2013

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In the U.S. and around the globe, economies are struggling to recover, leaving governments to find ways to do more with less. Some may likely call this a challenge. Instead, it is an opportunity – indeed a call to action – for innovative collaborations, for public-private partnerships (PPPs) between government agencies, businesses, universities, entrepreneurs, and citizens. Working together to not just identify problems, but also to more nimbly create solutions, PPPs can drive economic growth, create jobs, and improve the services available to citizens.

Partnerships for the future: Redefine public/private cooperation

While public-private partnerships (PPPs) have occurred in the United States for at least 200 years,1 they have primarily involved large infrastructure projects with formal contractual agreements, considered too costly or risky for one side to take on alone. But the increasingly complex nature of our national challenges, along with recent shifts in economic and social forces, are creating incentives for government and business to collaborate more frequently and in new ways that go well beyond traditional infrastructure investments, expanding the definition of partnerships in the future.

Bill Eggers, Author of “Solution Revolution” from his My Take in “Partnerships for the Future

Global Director, Public Sector Industry, Deloitte Research, Deloitte Services LP

My take

We are experiencing a dramatic change in how societal challenges are tackled—a shift away from a government-dominated model to one in which governments are just one problem-solver among many. Over the last decade, a number of new players have entered the arena and operate within what we call a “solution economy.” Through dynamic partnerships, these innovators are closing the widening gap between what governments provide and what citizens want. This new approach intends stronger results, lower costs, and the high hope we have for public innovation in an era of fiscal constraints and unmet needs.

Paul MacMillan and I explore this collaborative economy in our forthcoming book, Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises Are Teaming Up to Solve Society’s Toughest Problems. We argue that public sector problems transcend the domain of traditional government and require a broad, collaborative approach.

As discussed in Partnerships for the Future, the rigid silos of traditional industry, government, and other public institutions often run directly against the ethos of how problems are being effectively addressed today. Partnerships among private, nonprofit, and public enterprises are critical to developing effective, multidimensional solutions.

Consider waste management, a problem the affects citizens in the developed and developing world alike. Eight thousand miles away in India, Parag Gupta, a social entrepreneur we profile in our book, chose to test a collaborative business model to clean up the 40 million tons of garbage his country produces each year. Gupta established Waste Ventures, working with international donor institutions and social impact investors to engage a segment of the Indian population known as “trash pickers.” For Gupta, it was quickly apparent that acting in isolation or through a government-only paradigm would be a path to failure. Instead, he worked with the “trash pickers,” local NGOs, and government officials to build an ecosystem to clean up some of India’s worst garbage-plagued urban areas.

Going forward, governments should look to business and social entrepreneurs as important partners in solving the world’s greatest problems. The solution economy thrives in this environment where a cadre of actors—from governments to business, from social investors to ambitious entrepreneurs—work in partnership to create positive change.

1 The National Counsel for Public Private Partnerships, “Top Ten Facts About PPPs,”, accessed February 19, 2013.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte & Touche LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.


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