June saw the conclusion of the fourth and final Infuse cohort, leaving a positive legacy for our region through the 120-strong network of public service innovators nurtured over the last three years – and dozens of solutions delivered to the many different challenges faced by the public bodies of South East Wales.
That learning is now being built into a range of resources that will maximise the ongoing impact of the programme – sharing the tools, learning and lessons from 36 months of iterative application that has measurably increased our public sector skills, our capacity to innovate and our confidence in our own ingenuity.
Investing in Public Sector skills to tackle real-life challenges
Supported by CCR’s Venture Skills & Talent hub, the Infuse Programme for Innovative Future Services has helped the 10 local authorities of South East Wales and other public bodies access new skills and methods to radically enhance their power to innovate.
Over the last three years, it’s tackled real-life questions, driven by some of the biggest challenges faced by our region.
Accelerating decarbonisation and supporting communities have been two key themes running through each of the six month programmes, finding answers and creating solutions that are helping us enforce and measure the impact of our decarbonising changes – and work out how best to deliver services in a post-Covid world.
Working alongside the CCR Challenge Fund that offers funding for solutions created by the programme, Infuse has helped grow a new generation of public sector innovators equipped to transform services across our region. In light of this milestone, we spoke to some of the Infuse team to discover the scale of their achievements to date ….
Achievement and impact across many different areas
Owen Wilce, Infuse Programme Manager, reflected on the solutions delivered – and the sustainable and supportive network for public service innovators already created:
“The last three years have addressed critical questions, sparked some tremendous ideas – and brought them to fruition through the unique Infuse programme structure of The Adaption Lab, The Procurement Lab and The Data Lab.
“It’s a structure that’s empowered public sector employees to explore, nurture, test and deliver – creating solutions that have ranged from mapping the CCR Residential Area for Prioritised Decarbonisation, widening access to Carbon Literacy Training and exploring viable solutions to Managing Waste Streams, right through to reviving a much-needed Library Service, embedding an ABCD approach in Local Authorities and encouraging more sustainable local procurement from companies across the CCR.
“Building a sustainable and supportive network for everyone who has participated in Infuse has also been a key objective of the programme – because it’s vital that people can reach out and collaborate when delivering innovation in the public sector.
“That’s why we have created the Infuse Alumni, building a connected innovation network with a diverse range of perspectives and experiences – bringing sharp minds together in one place to look at the future, think what it could be, and explore how we get there.
“So the spirit and practices of Infuse will live on, across our region.”
Unlocking public value and delivering sustainable solutions
Professor Jane Lynch, Strategic Lead for the Infuse Procuerment Lab, noted the journey made by those 120 public sector employees who have participated in the four Infuse cohorts:
“Most associates start the Infuse journey with very little if any procurement expertise, but hopefully now have a very different understanding of what can be achieved – and the public value that can be unlocked when procurement is done well and understood across the organisation.
“Our focus during the procurement labs has included ‘The Art of the Possible’, ‘Innovative Procurement & the Procurement of Innovation’, ‘Collaboration in Procurement’, as well as ‘Procurement Policy & Practice’ – spotlighting the fact that procurement impacts all public services and, when performed to its full potential, can continually improve the lives of every citizen in the Cardiff Capital Region.
“It’s been a pleasure to support the Infuse cohorts, especially as the programme is viewed through the lens of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, taking note of the seven goals and five ways of working. This legislation gives us the roadmap to get it right – and putting that vision into action has been at the core of the Infuse programme, moving away from price-based procurement to policy-driven procurement linked to environmental sustainability, social value and innovation.
“The legacy will be long-lasting – not least as the ‘Caffael’ Smarter Spending boardgame devised by Infuse’s Dr Oishee Kundu will soon be offered to schools across the country!
“It’s both a fitting end and an exciting new beginning.”
Wednesday 20th September will see Infuse host its final event, at the Marriot Hotel in Cardiff, where the shared learning and resources collated from the last three years’ activity will be unveiled.
It will conclude a programme that’s broadened our mind to ‘what is possible’ in the public sector – as well as opening a new chapter, enabling our region to use the lessons learnt to continually inspire innovation in our public services.