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£10m Challenge Fund to Reshape Society

19 October 2020

Stock image of puzzle pieces being put back together

A £10m Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) Challenge Fund to develop innovative solutions to societal problems is being launched in partnership with Cardiff University.

The CCR Challenge Fund will invite public sector bodies to develop challenges and connect with the private sector to provide solutions.

The approach aims to deliver outcomes with a route to market, where no commercial solution currently exists.

Cardiff Capital Region has identified three key challenge themes: accelerating decarbonisation, improving regional health and wellbeing, and supporting, enhancing and transforming communities.

From today, the CCR Challenge Fund is open to expressions of interest from all public sector organisations active in the Cardiff Capital Region who wish to submit a challenge.

Workshops will follow later this year to allow public sector organisations to work with the CCR Challenge Fund Team and Cardiff University to develop the challenges.

The intention is to award at least one challenge contract by the end of March 2021. At this point, challenges will be launched to the open market and innovation will commence.

The University’s Centre for Innovation Policy Research will join Y Lab – the Public Services Innovation Lab for Wales and a member of Cardiff’s social science research collective SPARK – to develop challenge proposals in collaboration with the public sector bodies and the CCR team.

Gill Bristow, Professor of Economic Geography Cardiff University and member of the Challenge Fund Strategic Board said: “The approval of the CCR Challenge Fund is a really exciting development for the city region especially as we seek to rebuild the economy in the wake of Covid-19. The Challenge Fund will galvanise the collaboration between Cardiff University researchers and the CCR on local economic development, and offers public service providers the opportunity to benefit from the University's research and innovation expertise as we jointly strive to find solutions to key societal challenges.”

The approach is designed to harness the strength of the region’s most innovative small and medium-sized companies, reinvigorate the foundational economy, and radicalise public procurement in a way that gives more value for money, creates better outcomes for citizens and promotes well-balanced economic growth.

Rick Delbridge, Professor of Organisational Analysis Cardiff University and Delivery Partner Lead added: “We are delighted to be collaborating with the Cardiff Capital Region Challenge Fund to create commercial opportunities for companies who propose promising and innovative solutions to major societal challenges that have been identified by public bodies. Cardiff University has a track record of world-leading research and impact on innovation policy, economic development and public services innovation and we will work with the CCR and partners to develop and deliver an innovative programme of activity that builds from tried-and-tested approaches to create a bespoke programme.”

Philippa Marsden, Leader Caerphilly County Borough Council, CCR Regional Cabinet, and member of the Challenge Fund Strategic Board said: “This is an exciting fund and it couldn’t come at a better time. It offers us opportunities to look at old, systemic issues through new lenses. The future requires us to rethink and reshape, to embrace innovation and change and to work with greater agility and collaboration to create new markets and better, more sustainable futures. This initiative allows us to do that and I am looking forward to playing a full and active role in driving this initiative forward.”

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