Digital Innovation in Public Services

The Challenge:

It is well recognised that for the public sector to successfully deliver and meet the increasing demands on its services, it requires access to innovative products and services. This includes the ability to procure emerging technologies, goods and services from the private sector.

As part of a scoping study, funded through West Midlands Combined Authority and Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands, innovative businesses in the West Midlands cite procurement into the public sector as being one of the largest hurdles they encounter. Public procurement is then seen as the process which hinders or halts the successful adoption and scale of their innovation.

In these times of rapid change, which will continue as society resets and recovers following the Covid-19 pandemic and public finances are under pressure, there is an even greater role for innovation. Yesterday’s solutions do not even meet today’s, let alone tomorrow’s, challenges.

The Opportunity:

During the pandemic we have already seen pockets of innovative procurement which proves that many of the necessary policies and practices do exist or have been modified; it has taken a crisis to create the impetus to adopt innovation-friendly policies and practices. Therefore, an opportunity has arisen to better understand what can be learned and promoted to support Local Authorities to adopt innovative procurement practices and for businesses to understand what is required of them, in order that they can access public sector markets.

The Delivery:

In response to the latter, IAWM has facilitated a partnership between Innovation Birmingham, Birmingham City Council and Birmingham City University to develop a model of support.

The model looks to apply a design thinking service to teach local authority teams how to better identify and articulate their needs without being so prescriptive of the anticipated solution that any innovative ideas are disabled. These challenges will then be fed through to Innovation
Birmingham to support the business base to be able to respond, resulting in a recovery win for both parties. Local Authorities reduce exploitation from large national corporations, meaning they can pay less and do more with their budgets. Our regional economy of SMEs has the opportunity to enter previously closed supply chains, enabling their business growth and increasing GVA for the West Midlands.

Details of the Project:

This project has been endorsed by Innovate UK as an exemplar as part of the Domestic Cities Programme: