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A new £5m fund to help deliver better services and generate savings in the Welsh public sector has been launched.

The Innovate to Save fund is a unique partnership between the Welsh Government and Y Lab – itself a partnership between Cardiff University and the innovation charity Nesta – and will work closely with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

The new fund will provide repayable and non-repayable funding and non-financial support to Welsh public services and the third sector. Non-repayable funding will support organisations to prototype, test and develop complex and innovative changes to the way services are delivered. 

All areas of the Welsh public and third sectors will be able to apply for Innovate to Save funding. Organisations submitting proposals will also be able to draw on the resources and experience of Nesta and Cardiff University to expand the scope of projects.

The new fund will operate alongside the successful Invest to Save fund, which has been operating since 2009 and has supported 160 projects. In addition to the £5m Innovate to Save fund, £15m will be available through Invest to Save in 2017-18.

Professor Drakeford said:  “At a time of reducing budgets, change is a necessity not a choice. More scarce resources and growing demand means all public services must think and work differently, if we are to continue to provide the level of services people need.

“Our new £5m Innovate to Save fund has been developed in partnership with Y Lab and we hope to see a range of projects coming forward from across the Welsh public and third sectors. The savings generated will not only be re-invested in services but will improve outcomes for people and will be able to be rolled out more widely.”

Professor Adam Fletcher, Y Lab academic director, said: “Public services staff in Wales are best placed to solve the biggest challenges facing their own services. This new Welsh Government initiative means Y Lab will be able to work with teams from across Wales to help them to develop solutions to persistent problems, put those ideas into practice and trial them.

“Universities have typically been very good at researching public services and recommending what they should do differently but not so good at working with public services teams to help them to innovate.

“By working in partnership with Nesta, Cardiff University is leading the way in the UK by designing, delivering and evaluating major new innovation funds such as this.”

Helen Goulden, executive director, Innovation Lab, Nesta, said: "Motivation for governments to rethink and re-shape the way that they engage citizens or deliver services is currently riding high, with examples of governments from across the world choosing to finance public sector innovation.

“Our partnership with the Welsh Government is ambitious, seeking to tackle some of the most complex issues currently facing our public services – and generate cashable savings. The Innovate to Save model is new, blending different kinds of finance and intensive support to achieve this goal.

“Over the next two years it will, I hope, provide the evidence to justify it's replication in many other areas.”

For more information about the new Innovate to Save Fund and how to apply, visit



About Y Lab
Y Lab is a partnership between Cardiff University and Nesta to form a public services innovation lab for Wales. It aims to promote experimentation and a trials-based approach to the development of public services, drawing on expertise and capacity from Nesta and Cardiff University.

About Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the university fifth in the UK for research excellence.

Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the university combines modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. Its expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s flagship research institutes offer new approaches to pressing global problems.

About Nesta
Nesta is a global innovation foundation. Its mission is to spark and shape new ideas to improve how the world works for everyone. It uses knowledge, networks, funding and skills to take on big challenges, working in partnership with others to make change happen. Nesta is a UK charity and its work is enabled by a financial endowment. Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.