Heather Niven's Posts (6)


Creative England in partnership with NHS England launches a new initiative which will support development projects that use digital technology to give young people being treated for cancer and other life-limiting conditions the chance to explore their creative potential as a catalyst for healing and personal development, in collaboration with the Creative Skills For Life (CSL) Programme.

Creative England now invites applications for its Creative Skills For Life competition fund totalling £100,000, which aims to develop prototypes that leverage digital technologies and media to enhance the quality of life for young people with long-term life-threatening and life-limiting conditions. This fund is targeted at creative businesses who wish to bring innovative concepts or prototype to success in the market place in support of the Creative Skills For Life Programme.

Creative Skills For Life introduces participants to creative disciplines, such as music/film making, photography and design; with a view to equipping them with the confidence, skills and motivation to address the challenges they face and boost the recovery process during and post treatment. 

Ian Spero, Founder, Creative Skills For Life commented, “Creative England’s enthusiastic and on-going encouragement has been instrumental in the development of Creative Skills For Life. We are now looking forward to receiving some exciting creative ideas for apps or games that will enable young people facing potentially isolating situations to explore their creative potential and engage with a wider world in new, more meaningful ways.”

For NHS England Creative Skills For Life represents an opportunity to explore the impact of creativity and enabling technologies applied to long term conditions in a way that can enhance and enrich people’s lives, particularly in the delivery of healthcare to the younger population.

This exciting new initiative from Creative England in collaboration with Creative Skills For Life and NHS England will help enable patients to take greater direct control of situations that affect them, such as maintaining their social network and academic life during and after treatment.  This is in alignment with the Health Secretary’s  aim of providing people with control over their own care through information technologies as this saves the country £3 on every £1 spent.

The Creative Skills For Life Programme is a direct response to a new Government NHS Mandate which includes seizing the opportunities of new technology, enhancing quality of life for people with long term conditions and improving standards of care, not just treatment.  A recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hospice and Palliative Care revealed that the number of 16 to 19 year olds living with these conditions in the UK has nearly doubled in the last decade. As advances in medical science means this trend will continue, the report identified a real need to help young people manage the day to day impact of long term health related conditions and terminal illness.

Read more…
Creative councils Spent an enjoyable and thought provoking day down at NESTA HQ last Monday in London, where we learned more about and discussed the challenges of workless-ness and alternative ways of improving the situation in the UK. Philip Colligan, Executive Director of the NESTA Public Services Innovation Labs kicked off the proceedings by talking initially about the assumptions made in the Creative Councils project (where the idea for GeniUS! York was born and developed).  Firstly that radical change is needed in the public sector, secondly that local government needs to be instrumental in part of the solution, thirdly that there is no point in reinventing innovations loads of times in isolation in local authorities and therefore good ideas need to be spread, and finally that you can codify the processes and methods to be able to share, scale and generally spread the learning and good ideas.  Through the first phase of the Creative Councils project and part of the second phase, tools, learning and experiences have been captured and have fed into 'Open Labs' which will be beta tested in the new year. Toolkits and techniques to help you innovate, from idea generation and refinement through development and then the challenge of putting ideas into practice are all explored in this exciting new resource.  I for one can't wait to get my hands on it! Dr Jo Casebourne, NESTA Director of Public And Social Innovation followed in with a discussion around more innovative economic models to tackle UK workless-ness, including sites such as 'Task Rabbit', Amazon's 'Mechanical Turk'or 'Slivers of Time' as alternatives to FTE. There is a lot of unmet demand in society and matching people in a peer to peer way can help. Jo currently feels there is a lack of direction or clear route for people to help themselves get into work, or for people wanting to employ others.  Too much emphasis on the Job Centre, which although it has it's place, is only one of many agencies offering support. Jo asks us how we think NESTA can intervene?  A quick 'tot up' on the back of an envelope at NESTA HQ guesstimated around £5bn currently being spent on this system, but it isn't joined up and doesn't allow for transition between worklessness and self employed status very well. So the question is how do we use alternative approaches to create and shape new markets, and to encourage self employment, using the learning from other countries approaches, e.g. in France, they have a more integrated approach to support move into self employment, as opposed to instant benefit cuts when someone starts. There is also a need to stimulate new markets for part time employment. In Belgium, there is a system of service vouchers, which provide work for unemployed people, and cover all of the administration and legals for them through apprenticeship agencies, allowing process to be easier. What are your thoughts around how to help people work smarter, in roles they like and can be stimulated by, to benefit the economy?  Further details of this and other ideas around reengineering the UKs jobs system can be found on the NESTA web site.
Read more…

Since we launched GeniUS! York in January this year a lot has come out of the project and we wanted to share this with you and say thanks for your help in making this happen.  So far over the last 9 months:

  • Winners of Living Labs Global Awards (LLGA) for Social Innovation, for a proposal to pilot GeniUS! in Cape Town, have been invited to pilot there over next year. 
  • Shortlisted for Guardian Public Services Award for Community Engagement 2012.  Finals to take place in November 2012.
  • Invited to participate at a city level in LLGA 2013
  • Over 275 GeniUS! York members in innovation community generating over 4000 interactions, comments and ideas since the platform launched in January. 5 pilot projects being considered or underway from the previous 4 challenges, with challenge 5 addressing ‘Making York a Dementia Friendly Place’ now open, in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation with up to £10k to invest in making your ideas a reality in York.
  • A partnership programme with SCY to catalyse and embed innovation in York, through training, events, and opportunities over the next two years, is being developed to build on our early successes.
  • The GeniUS York team have been invited to speak on the subject of GeniUS! York at ‘Innovation: accelerating adoption and diffusion in the NHS’ conference in October inYork and also at a British Library Convention ‘Using open innovation to co-create public services’ as part of their EU Funded Open innovation programme in November in London.

We hope to continue building our GeniUS community to facilitate and drive new developments in York with your input and support.  So thank you for your involvement so far, please keep contributing and tell your friends and colleagues.  Together we can make a real difference!

Read more…

Living Labs Global Awards Update

The last week has been pretty amazing!  Neil (from the council) and I have been busy bees here in Rio after a hectic few weeks beforehand pulling together the NESTA phase 2 bid for the second phase of the Creative Councils programme. 
After sending off the NESTA proposal for the 26th April we packed like mad for the Living Labs Global awards, to get over to Rio in time for the ceremony on the 2nd and the summit on the 3rd may, where we had been shortlisted for an award from around 100 applicants in the Cape town category.  Cape Town have challenges with engaging their businesses and community with the council to help solve their problems too, and the Genius project seemed to fit their challenge well.  We found out on the evening of 2 May just how well, when we were delighted to hear that we had actually won!!
Twenty one cities took part with a challenge each and there were sixteen companies picked to help solve them (one company scooped 4 awards!)  These businesses are now invited to pilot the solution in the respective city they applied to help, and so our next step is to work with Cape Town over the next year to impliment a pilot of the GeniUS programme there: Cape GeniUS!
We met the lovely Loui who was on the adjudication panel for Cape Town and found out more about the specifics; 20% digital enablement in the area, expensive internet fees and lower literacy rates than in York as well as a lot less money kicking about.  They do have 100% cellular phone coverage though so that is something we need to consider which may be very useful. Cape Town also has four universities and we could draw on the expertise found there too.  So, in a nutshell - no mean feat, but we are willing to give it a go and help them through sharing our learning and techniques.  Any advice or expertise from the GeniUS York community would also be a great help to them and us!!  We will post the Cape Town presentation on the platform to give you more information.  We are hoping to get cracking on the next couple of weeks with preliminary talks and we will keep you posted regularly.
During the summit we met some trully inspirational people, most notably Sascha who is one of the directors of Living Labs Global who is committed to helping to positively impact 21 million people through his program, Rodrigo from CDI who is helping 70 low income communities to become digitally enabled (including the Apps for Good programme in the UK). 
On the 4th May we visited a favela (slum) here in Rio, which historically has been the place for violence, drug trafficking and prostitution but which now has an amazing programme and community centre which is used to help the residents of the favela to learn basic computer skills and then teach each other, to become qualified and experienced in something which can give them a future. The visit was an eye opening and humbling experience.  This is all part of Rodrigo and the CDI team's good work.  Both of these inspirational people are 'Ashoka fellows' (global leaders for the future of the planet and it's inhabitants).  It was an honour to talk to them and learn about their projects, as well as meeting and getting to know the other 150 global innovators at the summit. 
Our heads are full to bursting with ideas for York and beyind after meeting them.
We believe that this learning will help us shape the GeniUS! programme even further, to adapt it for other communities and to improve it for our own project as well as generating ideas for another load of initiatives to bring to the city. 
So we have much much more to do!  We have 6-9 pilots to drive forward as phase two of the GeniUS York project, from the super ideas generated on the platform and developed and refined through the workshops and discussions we have had with you over the last 4 months. If we reach phase 2 of NESTA's Creative Councils programme we will have the opportunity to scale this work out to 3-5 other councils in the UK too.  We want to build on the foundations of this and the relationships made at the Living Labs Global Awards and summit to create more good initiatives in York working with some of the innovative and transformational ideas, people and pilots presented there, and if we are really lucky we may even have the chance to host an award here in York in the future!
So onwards and upwards! Thanks for your support and enthusiasm so far and we hope you will continue to be an active part of the innovation rennaisance that we are creating collectively here in York and further afield!
Read more…

It's been an intense 30 hours! Just back from Birmingham where a team of four of us went down to further develop our GeniUS York project and to share our experiences with the other 16 short listed councils on the NESTA Creative Councils project.

We got there at dinner time last night and met all the other council teams at the Fazeley creative business centre (a beautiful converted church in the heart of Birmingham) for some dinner and a catch up and to represent our project so far through a picture we had sent in advance. (The image we used is the collage on the photo section of the GeniUS York site.) We had some lovely responses from people after our 'picture pitch', which was really encouraging.

The evening opened with a talk by the NESTA Executive Director of Public Services Lab, Phillip Colligan, where he reflected on his experiences of the project so far, expressed his enthusiasm for what we had all achieved to date and encouraged us to keep going! He also reinforced his feelings on the importance of transformational changes like the ones we are developing to evolve the way councils operate and be ready for the future.

We reconnected with Monmouthshire council who are working on their 'Big Deal' project, working to develop an ‘intrapreneurship’ programme, to change the structure of the organisation to be more innovative and to build new frameworks and partnerships to encourage innovation. We have invited them to York to tell us all more about their project and to see how we can help each other through our experiences and learning. They are fantastic folk, really enthusiastic, passionate and great fun to be around!

Over dinner I was chatting to Paul from Brighton and Hove Council about their 'We Live Here' project, which uses social media technology to engage the community and connect them with public sector organisations. He is also working on another project developing an app to put in the new government cloud which will bring together shared access to client information for GPs, carers an other social support staff. Really interesting and useful stuff!

Day two kicked off with more information from Phillip about what we had to do to prepare in advance of the phase 2 selection process. We all listened attentively and heard that we need to send a proposal (in no pre-defined format, so film, images, all sorts could be used) which explains the project so far – what are the problems we are addressing, what is the solution we are proposing, how the two link up, how we will shape the solution and how we will shape and scale up the process as we carry on. As the selection panel has to go through 17 of the proposals, we are now thinking about how to make ours compelling and a bit different. So get your thinking caps on folks. All suggestions appreciated and the deadline for that is the last week in April. We may be presenting to the panel in may and we will all find out the final verdict by the end of May. Fingers crossed we get their continued resource and support! (Don't worry, GeniUSYork will carry on if we don't but with phase two funding and the national support NESTA can offer, we could really ramp up achieving and exceeding our ambitions.)

We then got into the nitty gritty of the day – led by Charlie Leadbeater, innovation wizard and great speaker and facilitator. We broke into groups and discussed some of the challenges we were collectively facing (all folded neatly inside golden envelopes) 'The Lucky Dip'. These included how to go from ideas to implementation, how to manage the relationships with all the people interested in or influencing the projects and how to embed an innovative culture.

We then split up and pitched our ideas to groups followed by a question and answer session where the group had a chance to discuss the project in more depth, positively challenge and suggest improvements and feedback to us what they thought of the ideas. A really good session which gave us some new stuff to think about, and made us appreciate more some good qualities the project has around the local community buzz and the desire the GeniUS York community has to make things better.

Cornwall's 'Big Design Challenge' has similarities to our project with more of a focus around visual mapping and co-design, but there may be real scope to work together in the future and pool our expertise and experiences. They are also developing a new site called 'Ideas are Beautiful'. I am looking forward to learning more from them.

After lunch we talked more about the possible issues we may face driving our projects forward and how we navigated through any problems so far. But it wasn't negative, we shared the positive stories too.

The final session was where Charlie had us drawing 'super innovation heroes' and 'anti innovation villains' to visualise and understand the characteristics of both – a bit of light relief for the last 10 minutes after we had spent some time reflecting on what we had learned during the day. There is always a 'surprise' during Charlie's sessions...I noticed the jolly roger flag still stuck to the top of the wall in the venue after the 'spaghetti challenge' exercise we did with him the last time we were there. He-he is that what they call 'disruptive innovation'?

We finished the day mentally saturated, exhausted but also invigorated and looking forward to getting stuck into the first of our workshops on Monday. We are now more convinced than ever that GeniUS York can make a real difference and can grow to greater and greater things with a bigger and bigger impact on the city, its people and its future! NESTA bring it on!

Read more…

NESTA Creative Councils Project - update


York has been chosen as one of the 17 shortlisted councils to take part in the NESTA Creative Councils Programme, out of 137 applicants from all over the country.  Last week was an intensive and very rewarding week for me as SCY and the City of York Council team took part in a 3 day workshop in Birmingham to further develop our NESTA Creative Councils idea. 

Local government faces severe challenges with reducing budgets and increasing expectations. Traditional approaches have focussed on improving efficiencies: this is no longer sustainable and is bringing forward diminishing returns. The way forward is to focus on effectiveness and transformation which has innovation as its core. Traditional ways of generating ideas within a Council are myopic and new innovation will not happen organically: it needs to be encouraged and the City of York Council wish to take advantage of ideas whatever their source. In business, digital communications have facilitated a shift in boundaries, with an increase in the number of partners involved in the innovation process and with a new focus on the cross fertilisation of ideas. Proctor and Gamble is on record suggesting that over 50 percent of its new innovations will come from external sources. Of the private sector models for introducing innovation the "Open Innovation" approach appears to offer the greatest potential built on the principle of “opening up” the innovation process to parties outside their organisation. The City of York Council wishes to seek transformational opportunities by opening up innovation to outside the council and outside the extended “Council family”. Using "Open Innovation" would be a first amongst the local government community.

Read more…