Dario Wainer

Ashoka Fellow
Argentina,
Fellow Since 2012

Citation

This profile was prepared when Dario Wainer was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Darío has found a way to bring together distinct perspectives in Argentina, breaking down silos to create novel and creative solutions. He believes that emerging problems and unresolved challenges require a fresh, collaborative look, the understanding and contributions of varied actors, and the tools of modern technology. With GarageLab Dario is blending these aspects together, sparking new, multidisciplinary ideas and driving social change.

GarageLab is trying to create basic collaboration between business, government, and universities in Argentina. The cornerstone of innovation in Silicon Valley, Route 128 or Bangalore, Argentina’s institutions have been unable to cooperate effectively. Dario has created a new forum that invites the best and brightest minds from all three sectors to come together to attack some of the biggest issues in Argentina. Dario convenes all the key actors, who share ideas and information across channels that then give birth to solutions. In this way, GarageLab precedes the work of social incubators, which nurture and accelerate ideas and projects already conceived. In this “gestation period” GarageLab identifies the institutions, individuals, and professions most relevant to a particular topic and connects them for the first time in spaces to build and test new platforms, thereby conceiving a new idea. Each member of a coalition becomes an agent of change, now armed with knowledge that GarageLab’s processes have pull out. This transparency of information, originally separated among institutions and often hidden from the public, allows the coalition to advance its project together and often to pressure external actors, such as the state, to release more data on the relevant matter.

Founded in 2009, GarageLab immediately convened groups to focus on a couple of Argentina’s biggest challenges, starting with pollution in the Buenos Aires water basin. Through data mining from public sources of information, Dario has turned obscure data into powerful and visible measures—such as a huge map of the Buenos Aires water basin showing the twenty-five largest sources of pollution into the basin, with red, yellow or green lights to show progress in reduction of contamination and continued incidence of pollution to dozens of companies, government agencies, and citizen groups. Making public information transparent has become a critical focus of all aspects of Darío’s work. By making it possible for institutions and individuals to share their knowledge, they have more leverage to pressure reluctant state agencies to become more accountable and release information to the public or comply with their commitments not to pollute. GarageLab has already achieved new public-private-citizen partnerships of information sharing on rather disparate topics and is now adapting its own methodology from the most successful practices it concluded. With new potential projects frequently appearing on GarageLab’s agenda, Darío has created a powerful interface to break down institutional walls, one of the greatest barriers to solving some of the most challenging problems in Argentina.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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