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£5m innovation boost for Welsh public services

20 February 2018

Innovate to save

Innovate to Save, a £5m Welsh Government-funded programme, is calling for new applications from the public sector.

The scheme is being managed by Y Lab, a partnership between Cardiff University and Nesta. As the public services innovation lab for Wales, it provides support for new ideas with financial and non-financial support, as well as researching how and why innovation happens.

Applications are open for grants of up to £15,000, enabling third and public sector organisations to test ideas to improve services while making cashable savings. Following a research and development phase, successful projects will be able to apply for loan funding to implement the idea.

Throughout the research and development phase, projects will receive guidance from Y Lab, supported by Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

All areas of the Welsh public and third sectors, including local authorities, health boards, charities and social enterprises, will be able to apply for Innovate to Save funding. In May and June, a series of workshops will take place across Wales to share tools and techniques to help organisations develop their application. The deadline for applications is 1st July 2018.

The first round of Innovate to Save, launched in February 2017, saw eight organisations from across Wales develop and test their ideas. Projects which are currently in the research and development phase include:

  • Innovate Trust, a charity using Intelligent Personal Assistants (e.g. Amazon Alexa, Google Home devices) to help adults with learning disabilities in Cardiff be more independent of caregivers
  • FABRIC, a social enterprise in Swansea trialling ‘move-on’ accommodation for young care leavers;
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability, piloting an activities app to increase control and choice for adults that require one-to-one care.

Rob Ashelford, Head of Y Lab Programmes, said: “Giving people the time and space to experiment with new ideas for public services is more important than ever before. Innovate to Save helps organisations test, evaluate and implement projects that have the potential to improve services and generate savings. We are pleased to offer a new opportunity to apply to the programme and support more innovative projects in Wales.”

Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance in Welsh Government, said: “All parts of the Welsh public and third sectors are eligible to apply for Innovate to Save funding. Last year, a wide range of proposals, from the effectiveness of social prescribing to looking at new ways to assist communities threatened by coastal flooding and long-term decline, were put forward.

“We hope to see a similarly wide range of proposals coming forward this year, which will generate cash-releasing savings which can then be re-invested in services and improve outcomes for people, including their quality of life.”

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