Making the case: Adopting an R&D culture in Welsh public services

Innovate to Save’s workshop What makes a good R&D project? (25 and 27 April 2017) was designed to give participants guidance on how to design and deliver R&D projects, introducing the key stages of R&D for public services. In this post, we’re sharing some top tips and resources from that workshop.

Why research and development is important

Innovation is the process by which new ideas turn into practical value in the world; new products, services, or ways of doing things, therefore it’s vital that we understand the best ways to do innovation. Undertaking R&D work offers us opportunities to gain insights into the likely effects of our ideas, to take managed risks, and, crucially, it provides us with an opportunity to fail and learn without investing heavily in a product or service. R&D is not just about new technologies or scientists in laboratories, effective research and development can also be cheap and fast. Often thought of as tools of rich private companies, third and public sector organisations are typically less familiar with R&D culture, and have everything to gain from incorporating R&D activity in their work.

Top 5 tips to stimulate effective R&D

  1. Encourage a culture of curiosity and experimentation within your organisation: Develop projects that allow you to gain understanding around your challenges.

  2. Recognise R&D when it happens: Even organisations that don’t explicitly undertake R&D are likely to carry out R&D work - basic comparison testing, surveying and focus groups are all commonly used examples of R&D activities. Acknowledge and use it as a foundation upon which to build a broader culture of R&D.

  3. Be realistic: Agree with senior managers how much time and resources can actually be committed, and decide what size and scale of project is manageable in the chosen timescale.

  4. Take 3 steps: R&D is a process; ‘Scope it, Build it, Try it’ describes the steps typically taken when running R&D on project ideas.

  5. Work without fear of failure: R&D provides a safe space for organisations to try things out and fail - failing often allows us to learn and improve and to produce better iterations of our original ideas.

Top tools and resources to help you undertake R&D

More about the workshop and Innovate to Save

Innovate to Save has been set up to support new ideas that have the potential to generate cashable savings for Welsh public services and improve the quality of service delivery. The programme places as much emphasis on providing the right support and tools to develop robust project proposals as it does the funds to allow organisations to achieve change. During phase 1 of the programme the support on offer takes the form of a series of workshops that have been designed to support different parts of the application form to participate in the R&D phase of Innovate to Save. Read more information about the programme.

The slides from this workshop can be found here.

If you’d like to find out more about the workshops or the Innovate to Save programme, please get in touch: [email protected]/029 2251 0320.


Angharad Dalton

Angharad Dalton

Angharad Dalton

Programme Manager, Y Lab

Angharad is the Programme Manager for Innovate to Save

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