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Partnership for Better Public Services

18 December 2020

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Cardiff University has been awarded £2.4m to drive a partnership that promotes innovation across future public services.

The collaboration aims to help public sector workers develop skills that can support communities, accelerate decarbonisation and improve the health and well-being of citizens.

Funding from the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) will allow Cardiff Business School to team with Y Lab - the Public Services Innovation Lab for Wales, a partnership between Cardiff University and Nesta - and Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) to develop InFuSe – Innovation of Future Public Services – led by Monmouthshire County Council.

An overarching £10m Challenge Fund for innovation across the CCR, linked to InFuSe, was also approved by its Cabinet in October.

Professor Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University Dean of Engagement, School of Geography and Planning, said: “We are delighted to partner this much needed and extremely timely project. There is a sense of urgency to build on the accelerated learning from Covid-19 to innovate and to transform delivery of future public services for better outcomes.”

The programme will target new capacity for innovation around experimentation, better use of data for decision making, and targeted procurement to solve shared regional challenges, primarily across the CCR’s ten local authorities. Wales is the first country in the world to have legislation around sustainability and wellbeing through the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales. InFuse will embed seven well-being goals to support the key themes of transforming communities, improving public health and decarbonisation.

Dr Jane Lynch, Reader in Procurement, Cardiff Business School, said: “InfuSe is a unique opportunity to harness the good practices that currently exist in public procurement. By increasing resource and working collaboratively between academics and practitioners, public procurement can make better use of data to address the deep-rooted issues, and at a pace that perhaps would not be possible without this level of funding.”

Professor James Lewis, co-lead and Academic Director of Y Lab, said: “We are excited to work with our local authority partners to deliver public service reform and regional working. We will support local authority officers to develop new processes and concepts, grounded in the latest evidence and thinking to help solve shared regional challenges.”

Following a recruitment exercise to bring research fellows and associates to support the delivery team, InFuSe will continue the conversation with public sector officers from the participating local authorities and start to plan delivery of three core workstreams for the programme:

  • The Adaption Lab - supporting officers to design and deliver experiments that test potentially scalable solutions to regionwide problems.
  • The Procurement Lab – supporting officers to learn, develop and test new processes and methods for procuring innovative products and services that produce better outcomes for people who use and deliver services against the two thematic areas.
  • The Data Lab – supporting officers to better collect, manage, analyse, understand and make more effective use of data in decision making.

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