Y Lab to Deliver a Major Innovation Skills Programme with Ten Local Authorities

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Y Lab, Wales’ public services innovation lab – a partnership between Cardiff University and Nesta, with other colleagues from Cardiff University, will support the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal and the ten local authorities in the region to deliver the Innovative Future Services Public Sector Skills programme (InFuSe). The programme will be led by Monmouthshire County Council.

The £5.6m InFuSe programme will enable new ideas to be implemented by giving people working in public services access to new skills, tools and methods that improve their capacity and capability to innovate.

Rooted in real-life challenges, this three-year programme will identify two thematic areas of high importance to the Cardiff Capital Region, for example looking at problems and opportunities linked to Decarbonisation or Community Cohesion/Well-Being.

InFuSe is being funded by the Welsh European Funding Office’s Priority 5 Institutional Capacity European Social Fund, with £3.6m from European Social Funds and with significant matched investment from the ten local authorities and the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.

The programme will focus on how new skills, tools and different ways of thinking can help solve shared regional challenges by taking a collaborative approach. Local authority staff will focus on adapting promising ideas using a process of experimentation, making better use of data for decision making, or innovating with procurement. This will improve future public services – creating efficiencies, saving money or improving the impact of delivery for people who access and work in them.  InFuSe has also been designed to complement the Cardiff Capital Region Challenge Fund, also delivered in partnership with Y Lab. Officers will be encouraged to apply their learning to bid collaboratively for funding to address regional challenges that will also help solve local issues.

Rob Ashelford, Head of Nesta in Wales and co-Lead at Y Lab said,

“We’ve seen unprecedented scale and pace of innovation within public services over the past eight months.  InFuSe will provide a unique opportunity for the Cardiff Capital Region to build on this work and really get to grips with some of the pressing challenges we’re currently facing.”

Professor James Lewis, co-lead and Y Lab Academic Director, said

“We are delighted to be working with our local authority partners on this exciting programme, supporting public service reform and regional working. The importance of experimentation and innovation in data and procurement has been highlighted during the COVID pandemic and we look forward to working with our partners to develop and embed new skills, tools and methods.”

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.”

Monmouthshire County Council Leader, Councillor Peter Fox said:

“We are delighted that Monmouthshire County Council will lead this exciting new initiative, which hopes to build on the skills of some of Wales’ most excellent public servants. It comes at a time where we need the very best people representing us and making innovative and considered decisions as we face the challenges ahead. If this year has taught us anything, it is that we are stronger when we work together and Monmouthshire County Council is thrilled to be working alongside leading organisations to deliver this initiative for the region.”