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Open Innovation in Public Services

New models for better value

How do public sector service providers find innovative solutions to rapidly changing sets of challenges within severe funding constraints? 

At the seminar, held at the British Library on 30 November 2012, a diverse audience were introduced to 5 examples of initiatives with used external engagement and collaboration as a way of sourcing innovative new solutions to these challenges. The presenters were: 

  • Vicki Purewal: Nesta Centre for Challenge PrizesVicki described a challenge prize as offering a 'reward to whoever can first, or most effectively, meet a defined challenge'. The benefit of this approach is to provide access to a much wider audience than is the case with grant funding. She gave examples of challenge prizes she had led, including the 'The Big Green Challenge' and talked about the support offered by the Centre for Challenge Prizes.
  • Carl Reynolds: NHS Hack Days. Carl described himself as a 'doctor and a geek' and talked about 'Hack Days',  which are intense one-or-two-day events that bring together a group of doctors, developers and designers with a commitment to the NHS to build exciting or off-the-wall prototypes that promote health. The first of these was held in London in May 2012 and the motivation for them was the perception that the NHS did not make effective use of IT. Carl described many of the prototypes that had already emerged from these events.
  • Heather Niven: GenIUS York. Heather described the platform and processes that York City Council had developed to encourage staff and the community to help them face strategic and operational challenges. She talked bout the journey that they has been through to reach a point in which the Council had moved from being a 'big tanker to a flotilla of active networked organisations and individuals'. She emphasised the importance of action and encouraged those looking to implement similar processes to 'be brave and proceed until apprehended'.
  • Jennifer Parkin: Camden Council Innovation and Development Fund.  Jenny talked about the experience of Camden Council and the role of the Fund which aims to unlock the creativity and resources that exist within the borough, find practical solutions that reduce inequality and to enable Camden residents to reach their full potential. She emphasised that this has been a learning process and had required a cultural shift within the council. In her opinion, the journey was as important as the end point. 
  • David Townson: Design Council. David talked about the Design Council's Design Leadership Programme  which supports public sector clients in finding long term improvements to products and services. The Programme is based on the role of design as a framework for innovation. David described the two-stage Double Diamond model in which the first Diamond focussed on defining a challenge and the second Diamond on resolving it. He outlined the success of Barking & Dagenham Council in applying this approach.

Alison Coward from Bracket facilitated a closing session in which the presenters discussed issues, arising from their presentations, which were raised by the audience. Much of this discussion focussed on how to bring about the cultural changes within organisations needed to make these models work and on gaining support from senior levels.

There are reports on the event in the Blogs listed below.

Twitter hashtag:  #oipsrv

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