Welsh Government unveils fresh innovation funding strategy
Devolved authority to partner with Nesta and Cardiff University to help support and scale up projects focused on more efficient public service delivery
The Welsh Government has launched a new £5m funding project intended to help the public and charity sectors to improve service delivery through the design and implementation of prototype solutions and new ways of working.
As the devolved government prepares to release an updated digital action strategy over the next few months, the fresh funding is expected to supplement existing finance programmes looking at operational savings for the wider public sector.
An updated Digital Action Plan, which will try to set out aims for tackling challenges around interoperable services and defining key digital function needs, is scheduled to be considered by the Welsh Government Board at the end of the first quarter of 2017. Pending approval, it is then expected that the strategy will be published early in the second quarter of the year.
It is in this environment that the new funding has been devised.
Under the proposed ‘Innovate to Save’ fund, which represents a collaboration with Cardiff University and innovation charity Nesta via their joint Wales-focused Y Lab initiative, repayable and non-repayable finance will be provided to public sector organisations. Non-financial support will also be provided to authorities and third sector bodies under the plan.
Finance will be available through the strategy to any public or third sector organisation in Wales, with Nesta and Cardiff University offering to provide resources and expertise to build scope for successful projects.
Welsh Finance Secretary, Professor Mark Drakeford, said the funding was intended to support a range of projects across the country that could then be rolled out to a larger number of different organisations.
“At a time of reducing budgets, change is a necessity not a choice. More scarce resources and growing demand means all public services must think and work differently, if we are to continue to provide the level of services people need,“ he said.
Helen Goulden, executive director for Nesta’s Innovation Lab, said the partnership with the Welsh Government around funding was intended to tackle more complex issues impacting public service delivery.
"Motivation for governments to rethink and re-shape the way that they engage citizens or deliver services is currently riding high, with examples of governments from across the world choosing to finance public sector innovation,” she said.
Alongside the £5m funding strategy, an additional £15m will be provided over the course of the next financial year as part of the latest financing to be provided through the separate ‘Invest to Save’ fund.
Invest to Save is said to have ran since 2009, supporting 160 projects around encouraging public service efficiency.