The GeniUS! pilot project is a partnership project between Science City York and City of York Council and was originally funded by NESTA as part of their Creative Councils Programme.
The project opens up the process of solving the city's medium to long term strategic and operational challenges through providing a mechanism to have conversations and co-develop solutions with businesses, academics and the community. This is possible through the use of this online platform to communicate the challenges and encourage discussion around possible solutions. This platform is used to post the challenges and encourage discussion around solutions, but also has the functionality to allow users to set up their own profile page, post images, videos and blogs in addition to contributing to the challenges on the forum.
The process is then supported by an innovation team to work with the 'idea generators' from the platform to develop and refine the best solutions. It is then possible to pilot these refined ideas to test their effectiveness in a live setting. The innovation team are comprised of some of the more creative members of the council and help to navigate around potential barriers, using their experience and contacts within the system to smooth the way for the development process.
This method works well on two levels. Through the conversations on the platform and subsequent development workshops, barriers for businesses to pro-actively engage with the council are reduced through online relationships with businesses, the community and academics. This creates an 'innovation ecosystem' of support for the council to draw on when addressing future challenges. This breaks down the barriers between different council departments, between the business community and the council. It provides a direct route for the community to pro-actively work with the public sector to improve the city and gradually creates a more innovative culture within the council. Added to this, the innovation team are selected from within the council to work with us to facilitate the development of solutions. Therefore, the in-house skills gained can be used by the council for many future challenges.
On another level, better solutions can be found to solve the medium to longer term challenges through a more heterogeneous group of creative thinkers approaching the challenges in a different way to the traditional approach, (which is internally developing solutions and then towards the end of the process, convening a focus group to gain feedback from the group.)
The initial pilot comprised four initial challenges to demonstrate the effectiveness of the platform in your city. These challenges wereidentified through communications with the people of your city, council members and other partners in the city, and address problems the city council don't know the answers to, but they think someone else in the city might.