Collaborate to Innovate – CCR Challenge Fund Project Undertakes its First Virtual Hackathon

Thought Leadership

Last week saw the Cardiff Capital Region Challenge Fund progress a stage further with the Regional Cabinet and/or their representatives joining members of the CCRCD team in a virtual “hack” to debate and prioritise the key themes from which our specific challenges will be extracted.

Innovation in Action

Facilitated by local company, Simply Do Ideas, experts in idea generation, who have worked with organisations such as Rolls Royce, NatWest and the NHS, and on projects that have included the not insignificant challenges of making aircrafts lighter for Rolls Royce and reducing waste in the NHS, our team were in good hands!

The focus of our new £10m Challenge fund is on re-building local wealth for a post-Covid world, through solving societal challenges that have significant economic impact and potential commercial-scale opportunities.

However, the world is full of economic and societal challenges to be solved so our first challenge is quite simply a prioritisation challenge – how do we choose which problems to try to solve? How do we decide which is more important?

Hearts and Minds

Our objective for this initial session was to kick start the stakeholder engagement process, starting with the Regional cabinet (and to be followed up with similar sessions with other stakeholder groups) with the ultimate aim of co-creating a unanimous set of 3-5 challenges, challenges that win the hearts and minds of all our key stakeholders.

What followed was a fully interactive process – a two-hour, immersive experience facilitated via video call using in-call engagement tools such as Miro boards.

Despite the inevitable technology issues and an environment not ideal for creative interaction it was great to see everyone fully engaged from the off with no shortage of ideas for debate.

Debating Priority Goals

As a way of getting clarity on the key themes we both want and need the challenge fund to address, Simply Do facilitated a group review and reflection exercise on the Future Generations 7 well-being goals. Consideration was given to the importance, impact and urgency of these in a post Covid world, whilst also taking into account the reality that we have finite resources and time.

After the first round of discussions the prioritisation votes were cast as follows:

1: Prosperous Wales

2: Cohesive Communities

3: A Healthier Wales

4: A Resilient Wales

5: A more Equal Wales


In reflecting on the voting it was clear that the impact of Covid-19 on the economy was at the forefront of everyone’s mind and therefore the overriding need for our challenges to have a positive impact on future prosperity of Wales was perhaps an inevitable outcome.

There was also much debate on the concept of cohesive communities.

Cllr Kevin O’Neill (Leader Merthyr) made some excellent points on the fact that “everybody should have a voice”. Reflecting on the community spirit seen throughout both the flooding and more recently with the volunteer efforts expended locally to keep our parks and green spaces maintained and welcoming, Kevin was keen to point out “ the silent majority have spoken and that capturing and maintaining that sense of community spirit without politicising it is essential.”

On a similar theme, Cllr Huw David (Leader Bridgend) spoke passionately about the need to ensure that “our recovery is a green recovery” and the opportunity the future of transport and de-carbonisation agenda presents for engaging challenges.

Matthew Gatehouse (deputising for Cllr Peter Fox Monmouth) made the point that “More equal societies tend to have better outcomes” so that equality is inextricably linked with healthier, more resilient communities. Accordingly challenges that address multiple goals should be considered.

Whilst Madeline Simms (Creative Rural Communities) stressed that the implications of Covid could create “a lost generation of young people left behind from missing out on many of the skills and opportunities missed during the Covid lockdown” and that this was an area that would benefit greatly from innovation led challenge funding.

Agreeing the Challenge Themes

After 2 hrs of rich debate the 3 key Challenge themes emerging were concluded as being;

  1. Decarbonisation
  2. Health and Wellbeing
  3. Communities


Also agreed were the critical success factors that the individual challenges created within the agreed thematic framework must address:

  • Driving local wealth building
  • Delivering local supply chain benefits
  • Improving skills in the region


Next steps

With a lot more questions than answers at this stage, and a rich tapestry of areas for further exploration, the next steps are to widen the engagement process to include other stakeholder groups, and to build on this initial framework seeking to get ever increasing degrees of clarity into specific challenges. It is expected that this crystallisation phase will take a couple of months but will conclude in the form of a co-created set of 3-5 challenges and a timeline for their delivery.

We will be tracking the progress of this initiative and will seek to keep you all informed on its progress.


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