• Applicant: Francis Clarke
  • Funding provided: £250

Responding to the broad brief that events should broadly be about how technology can support transparency, engagement or collaboration we would like to hold an event which looks at how technology can support collaboration between smaller social enterprises (and other third sector organisations more generally) and the public sector so that they can provide a credible alternative to the big players such as Capita and SERCO when it comes to working with and/or being commissioned by the public sector to provide services. We believe such a set up would allow the public sector to collaborate and commission support in more flexible ways that support citizen engagement and service innovation.

Based on my experience of organising and participating in ‘unconference’ events when I worked for FutureGov, we would be looking to hold the event over two days, most likely a Friday and Saturday. Day one would feature a combination of inspiration and discussion sessions, followed by problem/issue identification and mapping of potential solutions. Our expectation would be that day two would take on more of a ‘hack’ format, with project teams working to develop practical ideas for addressing issues, ideally resulting in a proof of concept or a proposal that teams can continue to work on after the event has finished.

Working with Mark Ellerby, Director of Cloudberry Innovation and Development, we propose to hold the event in Birmingham but to keep the invite open to a national audience. As Birmingham is central, well-connected for transport and is linked to strong regional professional networks, we would expect to attract people from at least the West Midlands and possibly beyond.

In line with my experience of organising the ‘Local by Social’ unconference events whilst at FutureGov, we would be aiming to attract:

  • Public sector politicians and officers, particularly those with an interest in technology, procurement, the social economy and improving social outcomes
  • Members of the social economy (community, voluntary, social enterprise). The West Midlands has well-established regional networks and Mark has close links to. We also have links nationally to organisations such as Social Enterprise Mark
  • Techies. People with technical skills who can help people test + build solutions. I would look to the Google Interactivism model, where each project team had the support of a software engineer/programmer
  • Policy and social innovation experts . Although the focus of the event will be on how tech can enable change we also need to consider what changes are needed to operating environment and working relationships to create support for new ways of collaborating. We hope innovation people can help us avoid suggesting the same old ‘innovations’ whilst policy people can help inject a degree of political realism.