About the Open Innovation Exchange

This Open Innovation Exchange site was launched on April 22 2007 and used until May 14 2007 to develop an "open source bid" to the UK Cabinet Office, which invited proposals for a Third Sector innovation exchange. The invitation to tender for a £1.2 million three-year programme said:

"The innovation exchange will pilot new approaches to fostering, exchanging and replicating third sector innovation, ensuring that public services benefit from the approaches they pioneer. The innovation exchange will seek to connect innovators to one another, to those who might benefit from their work, including public service, commissioners and third sector organisation, and others who might invest in their work."

We believed that we could develop a better proposal by sharing our ideas with others, and inviting comments and contributions. We succeeded in that, and delivered the final proposal on May 14. It is available here.

However , we aren't are stopping now, and we invite people to continue to contribute ideas on how the exchange - and other collaborations in the field - could work.

Below are a set of question and answers on our original approach to the bid. Simon Berry answers some challenging questions here.


Questions and answers during the process of developing the bid

What is the Innovation Exchange?
The Cabinet Office has published an invitation to tender for a £1.2 million three-year programme:

The innovation exchange will pilot new approaches to fostering, exchanging and replicating third sector innovation, ensuring that public services benefit from the approaches they pioneer. The innovation exchange will seek to connect innovators to one another, to those who might benefit from their work, including public service, commissioners and third sector organisation, and others who might invest in their work.


More here
on the tender.

What is the Third Sector?
The Government defines the third sector as non-governmental organisations which are value-driven and which principally reinvest their surpluses to further social, environmental or cultural objectives. It includes voluntary and community organisations, charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals. More here

What is an open source bid?
It is an innovative response to the challenge. A small group is
undertaking research and developing ideas for the bid online – and inviting others to join in the process. The inspiration for this approach comes from an increasingly collaborative online world, where people are prepared to allow others to build on work they have done.

Who is behind the bid?
You can see the initial facilitators of the programme here.

Why are you doing it this way?
It is very difficult – if not impossible – to know how best to achieve the
sort of innovation exchange the Cabinet Office is seeking, without getting started and finding what works in practice. It will certainly require different attitudes from those common at present, where organisations competing for funding may be reluctant to share their
ideas and experience. By developing ideas in public we aim to attract
those prepared to do things differently, work up an innovative approach
with them, then attract wider participation.

Are you limiting involvement to Third Sector organisations?
No - we are looking for ideas and participation from anyone interested in
how those organisations might collaborate and innovate. This may come from individuals, or organisations in public or private sectors.

How will you develop the bid?
In part by modelling the sort of process we think will be needed to
develop the exchange. We will put together some initial ideas, start
mapping potential supporters of a new approach, develop further ideas
with them, test against tender requirements, revise. We can’t say at
the outset quite how it will work out – because that’s the nature of
innovation. See exchange news about the process and the proposal for updates.

When does the bid have to be submitted?
May 14th.

How can I join in?
We suggest

  • contribute by writing about this is your blog or other space with a link, or add this tag - openinex
  • register on our site if you want to be associated with the proposal by adding specific ideas
  • contact us if you think you might be able to offer something to the core team

If I contribute, and we win, will I get on to the team?
Part of the bid process will be working out how to organise and deliver the programme. We’ll have to strike a balance between drawing on a wide range of ideas and possible contributions, and presenting a credible
programme to convince Cabinet Office that we can deliver. Ideas on how best to do that are welcome.

We hope you think it worth contributing because it is an opportunity to put yourself on the third sector innovation landscape.

Won’t other bidders use the ideas that we develop?
We hope so – that way we will have made a difference even before the
programme starts. However, we believe that it will be clear to Cabinet
Office and others where the ideas came from … and, hopefully, who is
best place to put them into practice. All content will have a Creative
Commons license
attached, which requires attribution.

Can I be part of this process, and also be developing a rival bid?
Yes – but it is a two-way street. You’ll need to share some ideas here, and attribute any you pick up.

Can anyone outside the UK contribute?
Yes please, although we will check the tender documents for any restrictions in the delivery process.

What happens to this work if the bid doesn’t succeed?
Everyone involved will have access to a wide range of new contacts and new ideas, and may be inspired to do something with those, and be
well-placed to take advantage of whatever programme emerges.

Will the emphasis of the programme be about online collaboration?
No, because that is still relatively under-developed in the Third Sector.
We expect innovation exchange to take place through a whole range of
methods, including people talking to each other and developing new
relationships. We do believe, however, that those using new media are
creating new ways to collaborate and innovate, and we will be looking
to bring that inspiration and practice into the programme.

Who came up with the idea of an open source bid?
Does that matter? :-)