Policy research institutes (PRIs) play a strategic role in the knowledge sector. Apart from producing knowledge and evidence to influence the policy-making process (Hertz et al., 2020), PRIs can also act as bridges between academia and policy actors and between the state and civil society, serving the public interest as independent voices that translate basic research into understandable, applicable and accessible policy narratives and recommendations for policy makers and the public (McGann, 2019). For this reason, the sustainability of PRIs is fundamental to that of the knowledge sector to support evidence-based policy making.
One focus of the Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI) is on strengthening the capacity of actors and institutions in the knowledge sector. In Phase 1, KSI provided support in the form of core grants to strengthen organisational development, research quality and research communication to 16 PRI partners. The KSI-supported partners are research institutions with a strong interest in policy research and engagement, and with good prospects of becoming important policy actors contributing to and influencing policy in their respective areas of expertise. In Phase 2, KSI provided more targeted yet flexible grants to pursue multi-year initiatives. Through this initiative, partner PRIs can produce quality policy research, influence policy, strengthen and build networks, and gradually improve financial sustainability so as to continue to promote evidence-based policy making in the long term.
In the context of financial sustainability, KSI provides support in the form of an investment component so that PRIs can develop their non-profit organisations with strong and sustainable financial governance. Eleven proposals for financial sustainability activities have been funded by KSI as an investment component, and these have started to be implemented by their respective institutions. Among them are the Regional Autonomy Implementation Monitoring Committee (KPPOD) and the Institute for Research and Empowerment (IRE). The experience of these two PRIs is expected to provide insight into action plans and implementation of financial sustainability to strengthen the financial foundation of the organisation.
Regional Autonomy School
KPPOD is an independent institution that focuses on studies and advocacy on all matters related to policies and public services in the economic, fiscal and decentralisation/regional autonomy spheres. In order to achieve a vision to improve the quality of economic/fiscal governance and accountable, effective and democratic governance practices in the regions, KPPOD expanded by establishing the Regional Autonomy School (Sekolah Otonomi Daerah-SODA) unit. The establishment of the Regional Autonomy School aimed to increase the capacity of those who focus on strengthening regional autonomy, especially public policy analysts, and to become a financial foundation for the sustainability and realisation of KPPOD's visions and missions in the future.
The development of this unit expands the opportunity for KPPOD to respond to a high demand from local government and policy analysts to provide training related to regional autonomy. Moreover, Law Number 11 of 2020 (UU 11/2020) concerning job creation requires the involvement of certified experts, both in the business licensing process (basic and sectoral) and in the drafting of regional regulations and regional head regulations. This regulation opens up opportunities for KPPOD to form and develop professional education and training institutions (Diklat) that support the availability of these experts, especially policy analysts who are competent in formulating regional policies (perda/perkada). The Regional Autonomy School focuses on education and training for policy analysts, both from the State Civil Apparatus (ASN) and non-ASN circles, and academics, with two training modules: regulatory impact assessment and policy analysis and advocacy. This institution is expected to be able to contribute to efforts to establish evidence-based policies through the presence of reliable public policy analysts in Indonesia.
With the establishment of the Regional Autonomy School as a business unit that will become a regular source of funding, KPPOD makes adjustments to the institution's financial system and prepares a financial dashboard to monitor and analyse the financial condition of the institution. The existence of a dashboard that can be accessed and understood by all members will assist KPPOD in making strategic decisions on the sustainability of the institution. The Regional Autonomy School training program, which is being developed by KPPOD, is an example for PRIs to follow in strengthening the financial foundation and sustainability of the organisation's vision and mission.
In line with KPPOD, through the support of the KSI investment component, IRE develops alternative sources of funding to ensure the financial sustainability of the institution. The development of IRE funding sources is carried out by implementing a financial sustainability action plan to develop a training business unit. IRE has a vision to become an organisation that plays an active role in developing knowledge to influence strategic policies towards the realisation of a strong state and an independent local community. This vision is realised by IRE through knowledge development with research, capacity building and publications to encourage countries to carry out pro-poor and gender-responsive policy reforms.
In preparing its financial sustainability action plan, IRE starts by conducting market research activities. This is to obtain data and information needed for the development of a training service business. The results are used to develop a curriculum, syllabus and training modules, and to design the business model of the training unit. By conducting market research, IRE gains insights into the best products available to develop a training service unit, including a map of competition in training service providers.
The findings from market research are followed up by the preparation of a business model and the establishment of a training business unit, curriculum development, syllabus and training modules based on research and design, strategy development and marketing management, as well as supporting infrastructure. The IRE training business unit requires human resources, including trainers, to develop a curriculum, syllabus and modules, and to become facilitators in future trainings. IRE is also preparing a trainer selection and recruitment process.
Marketing is essential in establishing a training business unit. IRE develops marketing strategies by observing and studying strategies from various training organisations and through discussions with IRE expert panels to develop marketing strategies. IRE develops and optimises the use of its websites and social media to support the marketing system (promotion and branding) and training management. This is carried out in stages, from analysis of the website development needs and analysis and content development of training offers, to trials and internal user training. IRE, with the support of KSI, has built an audio-video studio to support the training process and the production of training materials in the form of audio and video, webinars and online training. Once the concept, business design, management, modules, infrastructure and resource requirements to run the training business unit have been prepared, from September to December IRE will conduct marketing and training services both offline and online. This training business unit allows IRE to independently obtain regular sources of funding from within the country to support the stability of the organisation's income.
Organisational financial sustainability is an important aspect to maintain the vision and mission of the institution. The investment component grant support from KSI encourages PRIs to develop capacity for financial sustainability in the future. The KSI investment component also provides capacity building enable PRIs to develop risk management and preparedness by strengthening financial practices, fund development, innovation and strategic planning. In the development process, KSI also provides technical assistance in the form of developing the logic of the investment component program, providing implementation consultation, and monitoring the activities of the investment component program to ensure achievement. This is done to ensure the financial sustainability of research institutions so they can continue to promote evidence-based policy making in the long term.