UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Meet the future of public value: Spotlight on MPA student…Andre Ribeiro Coutinho

19 April 2021

Introducing André Ribeiro Coutinho, 2020-21 Master of Public Administration (MPA) student at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP). We get to know more about him, while discussing public value and why he chose IIPP and our MPA.

andre ribeiro coutinho

What were you doing before you joined the IIPP MPA?
As partner of Symnetics/Tantum I’ve been working with innovation and transformation journeys with private, public and social organisations in places like Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Angola and UAE for the last 25 years. In 2015 I decided to jump into the world of startups and co-founded an impact venture for the circular economy (Evolve), then expanded with other partners into venture building in areas like medical cannabis (Indeov/Lacann) and biotec (Ziel). I am also professor of entrepreurship and innovation with some business schools (like FIA in Sao Paulo and FEN/UnChile) and co-author of 3 books about strategy.

Why did you choose to apply to the IIPP MPA?
As a Brazilian/Latin American citizen, we are at a turning point. Some years ago I felt compelled to seriously tackle some historical burdens like the persistent social inequality, skills gap and lack of agency for innovation in the region. Indeed no single actor alone either in the public, private or social sector can do much so we need partnerships and coalitions. The MPA is a unique convergence for this “call to action” combined with my work with clients, venture partners and multiple stakeholders for so many years.

I believe that the IIPP transdisciplinary approach is the only way to confront our societal problems, even the private sector have realised that they should move as a business from products and services to ecosystems: some of my clients in the mobility sector are pushing the boundaries towards 'smart mobility systems', others in the building materials are now entering the space of “better living” with care, wellbeing and circularity at the core of their strategies. Entrepreneurs like myself are also getting more engaged and reorienting their ventures towards positive impact and the IIPP provides great encouragement for that move.

What challenges or topics around innovation, public policy and public value concern/interest you the most?
As I ended up as strategic designer and entrepreneur my interests are driven to knowledge areas where we can exercise agency for system transformation. Design expanding from product/services towards ecosystem design and mission oriented innovation. Alternative governance models in the public, private and social sectors - policy/innovation labs, public private partnerships, innovation agencies, impact investing. And co-creative/engagement platforms with citizens to realise “transitions” for smart, inclusive and green cities in a collaborative way.

What do you hope to get out of the IIPP MPA?
A fresh narrative for the future; comprehensive frameworks to expand may way of seeing the world; connect to an amazing network of change makers, social activists and subject matter experts.

Why do you believe it is important that we change how public value is imagined, practised and evaluated?
Public value used to be a “government only” pursuit and this assumption is flawed. Since the 90’s many social organisations, most of them privately funded, began to show us the why and implement the how we should redesign public value. Now every actor in the system is realising that we should somehow move the value from a few beneficiaries, specially the owners and the direct customer, to many stakeholders. But in order to do that with need new ways to think (mindset), to communicate (narrative), to design, articulate and implement (methods, processes, incentives)  and evaluate (outcomes). All of this learning from multiple knowledge sources: social sciences, political sciences, design, management, economics, engineering, complexity sciences and many others. 

What is your favourite album, film or novel?

1900 by Bertolluci film poster
Album – Offramp by The Pat Metheny Group
Film – 1900 by Bernardo Bertolluci
Novel -  The man who was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton








If you had to remove one social media app from your phone, which would one would it be and why? 
Instagram. Selfies became sort of “modified selfish versions” of individuals.

Who would be your top three dream dinner guests (dead or alive)?

joseph cambell
Joseph Campbell
Franz Kafka
Helena Blavatsky
Helena Blavatsky

If your fellow MPA students were to visit you in your city, where would you take them and what is a local dish they would have to try?
Sao Paulo, be my guest! In a day trip I would start our journey with a pleasant walk at the Ibirapuera park and then pop into 1-2 museums inside the park to meet some of the Brazilian modern or contemporary art pieces. For lunch we would taste one of the Brazilian seafood or countryside special dishes at Tordesilhas. In the evening our visitor would join a “roda de samba”, we will sit and dance around a group of top musicians that play “samba root” music.

What is your life motto?
"When you're on a journey, and the end keeps getting further and further away, then you realize that the real end is the journey.”  Karlfried Graf Durkheim.

Learn more about André

Learn more about the IIPP MPA