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Local innovators funded to develop ideas

10 August 2017

Lightbulbs on a chalkboard

Eight Welsh organisations have received funding from a £5m fund that will accelerate innovation in public services - improving services and generating cash savings.

The Innovate to Save programme is run by Y Lab - a collaboration between innovation foundation Nesta and Cardiff University - and supported by the Welsh Government and Wales Council for Voluntary Action. It supports public and third sector organisations to prototype, trial and scale new projects to improve public services, from community gardening to support health and wellbeing to transitional services for young people leaving care. Support is given through a mix of grant funding, repayable loans and non-financial support like business or mentoring support.

Some of the innovators are:

  • Grow Cardiff, £11,340 - Grow Cardiff supports local people across the city to engage in community gardening to support their health and well-being. Working with 11 GP surgeries in South West Cardiff, they aim to measure and develop this idea; helping people with a range of conditions to reconnect with people, low-level physical activity and their food via growing.
  • Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, £15,000 - this collective of health and local authority bodies in North Wales provides free transport to people with community access or social care needs. By pooling data from each organisation - Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Gwynedd County Council and Wrexham County Council - the aim is to streamline the delivery of non-emergency patient transport and build a long-term, sustainable service. It is supported by ODI Cardiff.
  • Innovate Trust, £15,000 - Innovate Trust provides a supported living service for 275 people with learning disabilities to enable them to live in the community. It works with Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Vale of Glamorgan local authorities. They will explore how Intelligent Personal Assistants (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) might support people with disabilities who use their services, reducing the need for staff to be constantly present in their homes and thus reducing costs.
  • FABRIC, £13,574 - this Swansea-based social enterprise provides accommodation and support to young people aged 16 and 17 year olds who are Looked After Children or Care Leavers. To help young adults transition out of care safely at 18, its pilot will explore how a semi-independent accommodation service will reduce the risk of social isolation, improving both individual outcomes and the flow of people through the local authority system.
  • Gwynedd Council, £15,000 - Fairbourne is a coastal village that is currently subject to a shoreline management plan due to the risk of flooding caused by climate change. To support the small coastal community, a Community Interest Company will be set up to explore how those looking to leave the village can be supported to do so.  The project will look at the feasibility of using any new housing stock as part of the local authority’s statutory provision. The project will be cost-neutral and increase the available housing stock for social tenants.

Rob Ashelford, Senior Innovation Programmes Manager at innovation foundation Nesta said: “Faced with growing demand and resource scarcity, public servants must reimagine the way they deliver the services that citizens need. From joining up with local charities to preventing unnecessary interventions and helping regional authorities act more swiftly, the projects announced today have the potential to be rolled out across the UK. I’m excited not only by their ideas, but also by the evident opportunities for greater collaboration between public and third sector bodies.”

Welsh Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “At a time of reducing budgets, we must all think and work differently if we are to maintain the level of public services people require. These eight projects will receive support through our Innovate to Save fund to collaborate with other organisations and bring forward innovative pilots. Not only will these generate savings which can be re-invested but they will improve services and outcomes for people across Wales.”

Research evidence will be gathered on each of the projects as they progress over the next six months and shared on an ongoing basis via the Nesta website.

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