SOCIAL INNOVATION LAB

Policy Innovation Experimentation and Research (PIER) LABS

Evidence and knowledge leveraged to inform policy options and decision-making is limited and inadequate to address the complexity of modern social issues. Pier Labs was established to influence equitable systemic change that empowers and improves the well-being of people and communities.   

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WHAT WE DO

We are designed as a mechanism with diverse and deep expertise to:

  • Generate high-quality, systematic, and robust forms of evidence to design, test, scale, and evaluate the impact of new or improved interventions.
  • Foster collaboration by connecting and co-creating with people and communities that are most affected by policies, programs and interventions.
  • Share findings in ways that influence policy development and decision-making to positively impacts people’s lives.

Everything we do aims to improve the well-being of people and communities in a way that upholds the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

Our specific research domains and areas of expertise include:

Community Health

Including health care and accessibility

Poverty & Social Services

Including housing and homelessness, food security, public safety & justice and disability supports 

Employment, Education & Economic Development

Including employment services, and income supports, skills development 

Driving Impact

Together Davis Pier and Pier Labs are uniquely positioned to drive social impact.

Davis Pier and Pier Labs offer diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to inspire big ideas, facilitate systemic change, and realize impact. 

Pier Labs leverages existing research, systems knowledge, lived experience, and networks to generate evidence and influence change. 

Mission and Vision

We exist to: Influence equitable systemic change that empowers and improves the well-being of people and communities. 
We achieve this by: Connecting social science and action-oriented research, we aim to inspire community-led solutions and inform policy pathways that address societal inequities and complexity.

Evaluation and Research

Finding viable solutions to address complex issues requires continuous learning anchored in evaluation methods to generate evidence. Evaluation is embedded in all our research and innovation projects to inform the design, testing, and implementation of policy and program solutions.

Behavioural Science

We have expertise in behavioural science (also known as behavioural economics or behavioural insights), and use the knowledge of human decision-making and common behavioural biases to design “nudge” projects to improve policies, programs, and services.

Human-Centered Design

We work with citizens, stakeholders, and government using design thinking methodologies and approaches to develop innovative solutions that can be tested, iterated and scaled.

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WHO WE ARE

Pier Labs, a federally incorporated non-profit organization, works in partnership with government, community organizations, post-secondary institutions, charities, foundations, and private sector organizations to conduct research and innovation on complex societal issues impacting the wellbeing of Canadians.

From poverty and healthcare to education and employment, we connect social science and action-oriented research, to inspire community-led solutions and inform policy pathways that address societal inequities and complexity. We use all forms of evidence to generate ideas and build concepts that can be rigorously tested through experimentation to find working solutions that can be implemented and scaled.  

Board of Directors

Pier Labs is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of the Directors of Davis Pier Consulting and external members, ensuring transparency and mission-driven decision-making.

Mike Davis (Board Chair)

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Mike is a thought leader in government transformation and innovation, with over 20-years of experience in consulting across Canada and in countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia.  He is well-regarded not only for his ability to design and architect strategies and solutions to complex public sector issues for clients, but also for overseeing their implementation. Mike leads Davis Pier’s social innovation efforts focused on helping government by using behavioural science, service design and evidence-based policy approaches to improving policy-making and program design.

Mike has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Industrial Engineering from Dalhousie University and a Master’s degree in Behavioural Sciences at the London School of Economics.  He has attended the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Behavioural Insights Program and is certified as a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) and Project Management Professional (PMP).

Mike is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Kids Help Phone and on the Board of Directors for Tribe Network. Mike has also been named one of Atlantic Business Magazines Top 50 CEOs.

Darryl Pierrynowski (Board Member)

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Darryl Pierrynowski has a diverse private sector and consulting background spanning 15 years with a specific focus on the healthcare sector.

Darryl has an honour’s degree in finance, a master’s of business administration with a focus on information technology and has received postgraduate training in Project Management at Stanford University. Darryl has been a long term volunteer with Ronald McDonald House Atlantic Canada and is currently Vice Chair of its Board of Directors.

Darryl’s focus within Davis Pier is the delivery of business and technology advisory services to clients in healthcare, social services and related sectors.

Jim Hanlon (Board Member)

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Jim is a 40-year veteran of the Canadian tech industry, having worked in design, marketing and management for companies in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and New England. Over the years, Jim has worked in senior management positions with several large publicly traded multinationals. He has also sampled the waters of the entrepreneurial well as an owner in two separate high-tech companies that have successfully grown and been purchased by multinationals.

Jim’s personal passion is innovation and its impact on the competitiveness of Canadian industry. Jim graduated from the Nova Scotia Technical College (now Dalhousie University Faculty of Engineering) with a degree in electrical engineering. He also holds a Master of Business Administration degree in marketing from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and is a registered professional engineer in Nova Scotia.

Susan MacDougall (Board Member)

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Susan is the CEO of The Windsor Elms Village, Falmouth, a licensed Long Term Care home, supporting 108 residents and their families, with a staff of over 250. Prior to this, she was the Regional Manager, Annapolis Valley & South Shore for Shannex Incorporated, responsible for the operation of three long term care facilities in Western NS.

Sue is committed to advancing the understanding of, and innovation in, Long Term Care in Nova Scotia, building upon the experience, dedication and best practices that exist in the sector currently. It is her belief that seniors, and others who require care in Nova Scotia, deserve the very best we have to offer. Through collective understanding and collaboration, everything is possible. She currently is the Chair of the Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association.

Her other passion is governance. Currently Sue is Vice President of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce, and also serves on the Boards of The Valley Regional Enterprise Network, Acadia University Board of Governors and PIER Labs. She is also on the Steering Committee of the NS Health and Safety Leadership Charter.

A life-long learner, Susan has a Bachelor of Recreation Management from Acadia, a Diploma in Nursing, as well as a Master of Science in Business from Husson University, and is currently enrolled in the Institute of Corporate Directors Education Program through ICD and Rotman’s School of Business, University of Toronto.

Susan and her family live in Kentville.

Joanne Bath (Board Member)

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As the Chief Executive Officer of Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF), Joanne Bath leads a team committed to advancing life-changing health research and care in the Maritimes, across Canada, and beyond.

 

With more than 16 years of experience in the philanthropic field, Bath’s knowledge and expertise has been instrumental to the success of several major organizations over the years, including DMRF and the IWK Foundation. Over the past decade, Bath has worked diligently to build and lead high-performing teams, and has raised millions of dollars through entrepreneurial thinking, meticulous vision, fundraising acumen, and thoughtful leadership.

 

Hailing from small-town Newfoundland, Bath strongly values community, connection, and genuine relationships—ideals upon which she has built her rewarding career. Creating strong partnerships that foster avenues in which to better the lives of those within her community and beyond has been a crucial aspect of Bath’s professional journey. Seeing through a philanthropic lens, she endeavors to create a shared vision between health researchers, donors, and partner organizations—the ultimate goal: advance health research outcomes from everyone. A strong example of her relationship building expertise was demonstrated in the spring of 2020, when Bath played an instrumental role in the creation of the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition, which unlocked $1.5 million for critical COVID-19 research, from eight partnering organizations. This coalition has since gone on to support forty outstanding local COVID-19 health research projects.

 

Bath is an active member in her community and has contributed to several volunteer boards over the years, including Chisholm Services for Children, Association of Fundraising Professionals of Nova Scotia, Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association, and Canadian Progress Club Halifax Citadel. As a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and Women Get on Board, Joanne has been taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to her to deepen her knowledge regarding good board governance.

 

Bath holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Interested in learning more? 

Reach out to Jennifer McGill, Executive Director of Pier Labs