GeniUS! Challenge 9 - From Can’t Get Started to Can’t be Stopped - How can we support York citizens


Thank you all for your involvement in our latest challenge here on GeniUS! York and at our Synergy Surgery event in July and for your support in developing proposals for changing how the city interacts with its inhabitants through the ‘Right to Solve’ initiative.

Ideas and insights from the two day event and the overall discussion online here were used to shape and strengthen the final submission to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge competition in late July. As you may have seen in or heard in the media this week, York were unfortunately not chosen as one of the competition winners. Whilst this is really disappointing after the hard work put into this by a wide variety of people, this does not signal the end to the proposal nor to the ambition to bring it to reality.

The process has greatly sharpened our understanding of the challenge area itself and its possible solutions. Having just been involved in the competition process has also given us unprecedented access to top quality support and advice from Bloomberg Philanthropies and their partners in the Mayors Challenge process. All this stands us in good stead to move on and deliver the project through alternative routes and we are currently reviewing the proposals and planning how we could take it forward in a different way. We are also arranging a feedback session with Bloomberg Philanthropies to understand where they felt the proposal was strong and where it could be improved and this will likely give us further valuable insights into how we could progress it.

You can help with that, and once we have the relevant feedback and some initial ideas we will be in touch again. If you are still interested in being part of the process or being kept informed. Equally if you would rather not be troubled with updates and input then also please tell us.

So the right to solve is still on the cards. We just need to solve the challenge of how we take it forward!

Synergy Surgery Summary

Please find below images and other social media footage we captured over the two days at Synergy Surgery: A Right to Solve below. 

Flickr - To see the pictures from the two days click here

YoutubeTo view the interviews Dom carried out in the Feedback Tepee of Goodness click here

BlogTo read Dom’s blog on the event please click here

StorifyTo view the journey of the event please click here and also here

Original Question and Conversation

From Can’t Get Started to Can’t be Stopped: How can we support York citizens and businesses to become an irresistible force for innovation?

For background info on this challenge please click here

The aim of this challenge is to give everyone a ‘Right to Solve’, where anyone can:

  • communicate any new ideas/opportunities that have just emerged which could make York better;
  • identify where there is room for improvement and suggest how to improve it;
  • collaborate with others on solutions and how these could be tried and tested.

Once again we would love to hear your ideas, suggestions and solutions so please get involve by posting your comments below.

You need to be a member of GeniUS! York to add comments!

Join GeniUS! York


  • AndyD, behind GeniUS! project there are many enthusiastic people who do truly believe in cooperation and community values, that genuinely feel things can be done in a different way and residents can/must be part of the decision making process within the city. We all together are putting our motivation and real desire to achieve this ambitious challenge. We also need people like you, that gives a critical point of view, that are not satisfied with little positive outcomes and want bigger impact of the project. Without this constructive critical feedback GeniUS simply wouldn’t go forward. If you want (and I do hope so) we could continue discussing about all the aspects that can be improved in the model, constructively, positively and with a share aim of continous improvement.    

  • I think it would be too much to expect GeniUS alone to make an instant substantial impact to the innovation culture in the City of York. GeniUS is as part of the whole innovation eco-system, and as such I think it has, and will continue to add 'value' and contribute to greater innovation within the city. 

  • P.S. AndyD, Did you manage to get those Cycle counters implemented after all? I have noticed a couple of contraptions near the station cycle track that seem to click every time I go past.

    If so is it possible to access that transport data via webservice/xml/csv/json/ or other computer readable format, somewhere? Thanks.

  • I agree Chris - this isn't really the place for voting, but more for co-developing ideas and discussing how best to put them into practice. 

    I also really want to change the way the city operates like yesterday, but culture change takes time and in order for it to be really sustainable and effective it needs to take a period of time and not be rushed. 

    It would be great if AndyD could get back on board with this movement of trying to do things better together  - we need everyone to work together! This is a hard enough process in itself, without dissention in the ranks ;-) GeniUS! would definitely be stronger with rather than without him! 

    And here's hoping....WHEN we win, we will be in a position to accelerate a lot of what we are trying to achieve - a city with a future co-developed by the people in it. That is my dream!

  • I think it's easy to get frustrated and impatient with Genius because it's not changing the city as fast as we would like. I know i have been guilty of it myself.

    On reflection it's just that we need change in the way the City is run so badly and that Genius has set free the idea of an idea that we could actually make a difference lose that we are now all chomping at the bit wanting it to happen today.

    In reality as Heather replied to me before, Genuis is still trying to find the best ways of engaging with the people and to work with the existing powers, and at present (until they win the competition at least) are trying to do this on a shoestring budget.

    I know AndyD proposed lots of good ideas last time and worked really hard to try to get them picked :) I'm sure Genius would be stronger with him back on-board.

    As a note, Genius really need to make sure the selection process in future is better than the voting for those earlier challenges as this is likely what has left a bit of a negative taste afterwards? I don't think it was done on purpose. This discussion system just isn't capable of being used like an e-voting tool and the procedure needs to be clear and understood beforehand so as not to be open to abuse.

  • Andy - you may have a valid point but I can't see any other people seriously trying to open the City up to innovative ideas. The existing self-sustaining bureaucracies and all political debate just guarantees to give us more of the same. Can you direct me to another group of people seriously working across all types of stakeholders to look for open innovation and improvement?

    If it's the operating model of GeniUS that you are questioning then that was precisely the subject of the last Challenge, which was open to residents like ourselves to critique and propose improvements. Indeed by far the largest risk and guaranteed waste of money is to continue spending £128m a year of public money on outdated structures and practices that are totally unfit for future needs. Do you have a better model for achieving improvement?

  • Yes AndyD we are still going strong thanks! With over 10 challenges under our belt and some serious innovation projects being created from our Synergy Surgery events, we are making positive change in the city.  The 'Right to Solve' bid went in on schedule thanks for asking, after the University sponsored the venue for our Synergy Surgery workshop. Already we have been shortlisted from 155 cities who applied for the Mayor's Challenge down to one of 21, for our ideas, and now hopefully we will be the proud winners of EU 1-5m to build innovation capability in the city if we win one of the 5 prizes at the end of September.

    oh and PS. organisers weren't 'hell bent on a wacky idea of light generating pavements' actually that was the idea that won a fair and open vote on the platform, unfortunately pipping your idea at the post. no hard feelings I hope ;)

  • Is this Genius thing still going? Lost most credibility from the start when the organisers were hell bent on a wacky idea of light generating pavements when participants wanted some serious innovation in local transport. Who is funding this "2 day Synergy Surgery: A Right to Solve event which will take place at the Ron Cooke Hub, University of York."? Why has there been no serious effort to engage the press and general public in this council funded waste of money?

  • Hi all,

    Please click here to read a great blog all about Dom Smith’s journey through our Synergy Surgery and Innovation Fair events last week where all the discussion from the platform was brought into the room. As ever let us know what you think!

  • Hi everyone,

    Challenge 9: Unlocking GeniUS! has been live on the site for discussion for the past six weeks. From this discussion and other work offline, particularly at the Bloomberg Ideas camp, an overall idea for a solution is emerging.

    We are now less than a week away from our 2 day Synergy Surgery: A Right to Solve event which will take place at the Ron Cooke Hub, University of York.

    Over the two days in the Synergy Surgery we will work together to develop the different components we think may be needed and look at ways of testing these out in practice. We will be bringing all of the online conversation into the room to share with everyone and that will influence the ideas and initiatives we create, aiming to come up with a workable pilot. There may be other aspects still missing and the definitions could need refining...but please click here to see the starting points.

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