Why are we doing this?
Innovate to Save is ambitious - seeking to tackle some of the most complex issues currently facing our public services - and at the same time generate cashable savings. The model is new - blending different kinds of finance and intensive support to achieve this goal. The programme is a pilot to understand how innovation can be best supported to achieve these outcomes and we’ll be exploring the drivers of and barriers to innovation when thinking about how we deliver better services for less.
What are we doing?
The £5million Innovate to Save programme will, through grant funding, non-financial support and repayable loans, support public and third sector organisations to prototype, trial, scale and evaluate innovative projects. It is open to all Welsh public and third sector organisations from 17 February 2017.
There are three phases to the Innovate to Save programme; pre-application support, where we can support the development of new ideas into robust research and development (R&D) projects; research and development, where new ideas can be prototyped and tested, and implementation, where ideas that show the capacity to improve services and generate savings can be rolled out.
As well as a general call for projects that can demonstrate how they will improve services and create savings, we’re particularly keen to support projects that fall into one of the following four thematic areas:
- Improving services for looked after children;
- Using data and digital technology to drive change;
- Social prescribing;
- Public sector procurement.
We’re also keen to see applications from partnerships - particularly where activity in one organisations generates savings in another.
We will provide financial and non-financial support to enable successful applicants to take part in the R&D phase - grants of between £5,000 and £15,000 are available. For a full breakdown of the support available, please see the guidance for applicants.
Implementation projects will be supported with interest free, unsecured loans and a package of non-financial support. At this moment there is no upper limit to the value of loans that can be applied for.
Since 2009, the Welsh Government’s Invest to Save Fund has financed over £157 million towards projects, many of which have been able to generate cashable savings. The fund runs as a loan scheme, offering unsecured, zero interest finance to public sector projects that require up front investment to implement.
The fund attracts a wide range of applications, from the very straightforward to the highly complex; from deployment of known solutions, such as covering the upfront costs of voluntary severance schemes, to the development of novel ideas, such as health and social care reforms. Once implemented, the idea is that the projects repay their loans from the savings realised.
However, there are challenges with the Invest to Save Fund, which include:
- Limited in-depth evaluations to determine overall savings and medium to long term impacts;
- No financial incentives (in part due to the repayable nature of Invest to Save finance) to take on more innovative approaches and no capacity to support organisations trying to implement more innovative projects;
- No incentives or funding systems for attracting partnership projects where the investment is made into one organisation, but the savings are likely to be realised within another, separate organisation/sector;
- No internal capacity within the Welsh Government to provide any support to the projects being developed or to support projects once financed.
In light of this, a review of Invest to Save (undertaken by PPIW) recommended segmenting the Invest to Save fund to create a bespoke offer for organisations considering more radical options for achieving savings. This segmented programme is Innovate to Save.
The deadline for submission of applications is 10am on Tuesday 23 May 2017. We will then process, score and shortlist all the applications received before inviting a selection of applicants to take part in interviews.