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BIT Canada’s New Year’s Resolution – create a unicorn 🦄

  • Blog
  • 8th Jan 2020

The world needs more Canada.” – Barack Obama

There has been a flurry of activity since we opened our doors in Canada on October 1, 2019. Now, as our friends and colleagues do some end-of-year reflecting and new year goal-setting, we feel compelled to do the same. 

Our new Canadian team has kept very busy, working with old and new partners to bring on BIT Canada’s biggest goal, helping bring behavioural insights to the ‘next level’ in Canada by achieving social impact at national (or at least provincial!) scale. David Halpern’s reflections on BIT’s “policy unicorns” of the last 10 years provides a nice lens for thinking about this goal. Borrowing from the start-up world, he defines these unicorns as ideas having a social impact of at least $1 billion. 

What is Canada’s first behavioural insights (BI) policy unicorn going to be? Climate change mitigation and adaptation? Better health care delivery? Greater equality in the workplace for women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities?  

I had no idea Canada could be so much fun.” – Bruce Willis

In 2020, BIT Canada’s New Year’s Resolution is to create more unicorns! Specifically we want to encourage Canada’s first BI unicorn by:

Scaling traditional nudges that have been proven elsewhere.

Going beyond traditional nudges, applying BI to more upstream policy challenges.

  • The more realistic, nuanced model of human decision-making and behaviour offered by the behavioural sciences can and should be applied to Canada’s laws, regulations, and policies. By taking BI “upstream” in the policy process, from last-mile implementation to first-mile development, we can positively impact the lives of virtually all Canadians. 

Building capacity for BI across Canada, and at all levels of social impact organizations, so that others can produce these unicorns!

  • Canadian governments are investing in their behavioural insights capacity. At  BIT Canada, we’re working with British Columbia’s in-house BI team (BC BIG), sharing lessons from our experience on diverse issues from research tools to communications to project governance. Critically, this work doesn’t start and end within governments. We want (and are starting) to see BI pushing further into broader public sector and non-profit organizations across the country – organizations that are closely integrated into our communities and delivering services to people in the most immediate and important way. 

We have been thrilled with the warm welcome to Canada, and can’t wait to see what 2020 brings for applied behavioural insights across the country. 

In the immediate future, we are growing our team to include a new Associate Advisor and a Senior Advisor. In the longer term, we’re excited to work in collaboration with Canada’s thriving, talented community of BI experts and practitioners to find Canada’s first BI policy unicorn!

Does your organization have a challenge that could become Canada’s first BI unicorn? Email us at or


Have a challenge that could be our first unicorn?