Charity Finance covers the Open Innovation Exchange

We've had some terrific coverage from Charity Finance on the proposal. OK, I'm quoted rather well, so I'm biased, but Tania Mason has really captured what we are trying to do, including the point that if we win, some of the funds will be available to others.

Tania says that our proposal is in competition with one from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and the Young Foundation. Maybe this will build on the Launchpad programme they are developing with an impressive team and list of partners.

Our team hasn't really talked about relationships with competitors. Perhaps we should get in touch ... although we have to be careful about tendering procedures. Our generally philosophy is that if there's something innovative already happening, we hope Government and others will support it. The worst thing that big pots of new funding can do is smother existing initiatives ... so whatever happens, we hope that Launchpad and other programmes will flourish. This is more about gardening than changing the innovation landscape.

Here's Tania's piece in the weekly Charity News Alert


Ruralnet spearheads inclusive bid for Innovation Exchange

Tania Mason

A coalition of organisations and individuals led by Ruralnet UK is
preparing to challenge the NCVO for the go-ahead to run the
government’s £1.2m Innovation Exchange.

The RNUK bid will be based on an ‘open source’ type of model,
whereby the core partners’ initial ideas will be unveiled on a public
website and others will be encouraged to build on these by contributing
their own ideas. All content is licensed as ‘share alike’ so people are
free to use others’ ideas, and build on them, provided they offer
attribution and license anything they use in the same way.

The website went live today, at www.innovationexchange.net.

The Innovation Exchange is a three-year pilot programme which aims
to support the sector’s ability to implement sound new ideas for
improving delivery of public services.

Those involved in the RNUK bid include consultant David Wilcox,
agency Delib, and some other freelancers that work in the area of
knowledge management. Some of them met with Cabinet Office staff last
week to discuss the bid.

Wilcox said the open source idea came about because “so often with
these things, it’s really difficult to know what is going to work until
you get started. So you either enter a bid that’s completely off the
mark and miss out altogether, or you win it and then very quickly
realise that what you based it on is a load of rubbish.”

Simon Berry, Ruralnet UK chief executive who is leading the Open
Innovation Exchange bid, added: “So we decided to break away from the
competitive approach to bidding for contracts, and develop our
proposals in public.”

Wilcox said the website would not only connect non-profit
organisations with other non-profits, but would also seek to engage
with service users and potential investors in public services.

“The essence of open source thinking is that if you have already
developed something, it doesn’t make sense for someone else to have to
develop it again from scratch in order to move it on,” he said. “It’s
the latest thinking about how to collaborate effectively – how do you
get a system of people working together, rather than just top-down
delivery.”

He added that if the bid succeeds, some of the money would be used
to support the core partners, but some of it would be kept back to
support mentors or run projects.

The Ruralnet bid will go head-to-head with a rival bid from the NCVO
and the Young Foundation, which confirmed earlier this month they would
submit a tender for the Innovation Exchange.

However, the Institute of Fundraising, which had expressed an
interest in becoming a partner in a wider bid, has now decided not to.
Chief executive Lindsay Boswell told Charity News Alert that while the
Innovation Exchange was an “important tool”, it was wider than
fundraising so the Institute was not a natural home for it.

Comments

Competitive process

'The worst thing that big pots of new funding can do is smother existing
initiatives ... so whatever happens, we hope that Launchpad and other
programmes will flourish. This is more about gardening than changing
the innovation landscape.'

Agreed: I think the idea of 'winning' a tender is often unhelpful as it implies that all other submissions 'lost', which usually means all their contents and ideas are discarded. There's also a temptation with these things to design a complete solution from scratch, ignoring what's already happening in favour of an all-encompassing system (which normally encompasses very little and excludes an awful lot).

I can't quite decide on the issue of talking to rival bids either: on the one hand, we want the competition to fuel innovation and drive people to come up with great ideas that help them win; on the other hand, we don't want to see good ideas getting left behind in the relentless pursuit of 'more unique' unique selling points... it almost feels like as many people as possible should be writing an agreed, detailed specification to pitch against and the rival bids should be entirely about delivery. Who knows, perhaps the Office of the Third Sector are planning on doing this at their end and will concatenate all the best bits of the various bids into one uber-spec before loading it on to one delivery partner...

Concatenation

Who knows, perhaps the Office of the Third Sector are planning on doing
this at their end and will concatenate all the best bits of the various
bids into one uber-spec before loading it on to one delivery partner...

The ITT document does say that "The Cabinet Office . . . reserves the right to accept a portion of any tender, unless the tenderer stipulates otherwise on his [her?] tender."

 

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