On Friday 21st May 2021, iNetwork held our Innovation Awards Showcase: Celebrate Learn and Share. The Innovation Showcase highlighted and shared projects that were nominated into the iNetwork Innovation Awards 2020. The showcase provided a platform for iNetwork members to share the best of the best: the organisations, partners, teams and individuals who have led the way on innovation across the local public sector.

Each year we receive dozens of nominations across the iNetwork Innovation Award categories; only a handful win, but all are deserving of recognition and this year we highlighted over 10 projects across all the following Innovation Awards Categories: iStandUK Award (for information standards), Connected Procurement and Commissioning Award, Effective Information Sharing and Security Award, Transforming and Innovating Public Services Award, Partner Excellence Award & COVID-19 Response Recognition Award.

Shelley Heckman, Partnership Director, iNetwork opened the showcase with a welcome and invited guest speakers to welcome delegates to the event. Phil Swan, Director for Digital, GMCA spoke of how winning the Outstanding Contribution Award 2020 meant a huge amount to GMCA and was a huge lift during what had been a difficult year. He went on to say that the Innovation Showcase is key to sharing across the sector as innovation and delivery is a joint activity; it’s no longer about individual organisations but about how collectively we can change and make a difference to our communities. 

“GMCA gets a lot out of the iNetwork, we are involved in a whole range of projects; Procurement, Information Governance, Effective Information Sharing & Security (EISS), iStandUK and the NWWARP in particular”. Phil Swan, GMCA

Phil Swan, Director of Digital, GMCA

Sponsors FutureGOV and YPO were then invited to talk about how they have joined the event to support the innovative work across the sector and celebrate the wins of the fantastic projects. Matt Skinner, CEO at FutureGov spoke of valuing the work that iNetwork do, the commitment of everyone to openly sharing their lessons, the good and the bad that have been learnt along the way, is something that is truly valuable and they are committed to making public services better as per their ethos. Gavin Rimmington, Head of Public Sector at YPO emphasised the importance for collaboration across the public, private and voluntary sectors to ensure better outcomes for our service users and communities. He highlighted the significance of events such as the Innovation Awards Showcase in sharing leading practice. 

The first seminar session showcased St Helens Borough Council on their WoW (Ways of Working) programme. Speakers Emma Morris and Sarah Bullock from St Helens Council discussed the change programme that encompasses cultural transformation, policy and strategy modernisation, digital innovations and a modern accommodation programme. This project won the Transforming & Innovating Public Services Award. Watch their video to find out more about their project.

The second seminar showcased STAR Procurement’s Collaborative Adult Care Commissioning Plan. Elizabeth McKenna, Assistant Director of Procurement shared how the purpose of the plan was to bring procurement and adult care commissioning together with a common strategy and work plan that was compliant, forward looking, challenging and deliverable. This meant working in a concentrated and focused way and collaborating together to deliver a transformational plan and strategy that had full buy in from all parties. This project showcased the theme of culture change and how important it is to enable projects to succeed and be adopted.

The third seminar showcased the Information Sharing Gateway (ISG): Digital Solutions. This was presented by Michelle Murphy, Information Sharing Gateway Digital Solutions Project Manager at NHS University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay. She looked at how to develop Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) functionality within the ISG in collaboration with their public sector partners across the ISG User Community. This project was nominated for the Effective Information Sharing & Security Award and displays how an electronic DPIA can make it more friendly, approachable and accessible for non- IG practitioners and is a  great additional function for people already using the ISG for sharing data sharing agreements. Watch their video submission to learn more about this exciting project..

Kieran Smith & Philippa Hendrie, Digital Programme Managers at GMCA showcased the first of its kind Early Years Application. Their project allows parents and carers to access information and support for their child whenever they need it. The app was developed by GMCA with colleagues from the GM local authorities, GM Health & Social Care Partnership and frontline colleagues within the NHS. It has transformed the way health information is delivered and shared in GM and delivers integrated citizen and worker portals with mobile access to records. This project was nominated for the Transforming & Innovating Public Services Award.

The agenda for the Innovation Awards Showcase was jam packed with innovative projects and the St Helens Together Volunteer Portal did not fall short of that. The portal is a collaborative community response programme of residents, businesses, public services, voluntary and community groups across the Borough working together to improve outcomes for people. This projected was nominated for the Partner Excellence Award. 

Claire Redford-Kerr, Team Leader, Sally Yeoman, Chief Executive, Halton and St Helens Voluntary Action & Chris Martin, Founder, TeamKinetic Ltd explained how the platform they used was an ideal tool for those one to one volunteer to participant services and particularly useful for health and social care activities. Take a look at their video submission to learn more about their project.

The theme of collaborating to innovate continued as Stephen Girling, Project Manager, GMCA & Lianne Hawkins, Chief Operating Officer, Coalescent shared the Dapian: DPIA’s Simplified Project. The project brought together a collective of local authorities, health, academia, public bodies and private organisations, who all recognised the need and potential for a public sector focused, Digital Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) solution. This project was nominated for the Effective Information Sharing and Security Award and the Partner Excellence Award and speakers highlighted the benefits that can be taken from an effective DPIA process that are great for managing risk and  promoting information governance within organisations. Watch their video submission to learn more.

Next up on the agenda were the winners of the iStandUK Award, OpenCommunity: Setting the Community Services Data Standard. Ben Unsworth, Head of Service Transformation at Essex County Council shared how OpenCommunity has successfully made the case for a national open data standard for community services through it’s work with multiple partner organisations. They secured significant funding from MHCLG to build further online resources and support the community through peer to peer and direct help whilst supporting several implementations across the country. View their video submission to find out more.

In the afternoon Paul Murphy, Group Manager for Integrated Commissioning & Procurement at Manchester City Council presented their nomination for the Connected Procurement & Commissioning Award – Embedding Social Value at Manchester City Council. The Council is at the forefront of progressive procurement practices with many authorities and other organisations watching and learning from the Manchester way and looking to follow Manchester’s lead. This is because as Paul explained Manchester City Council has pushed the boundaries on sustainable procurement, ethical procurement and social value through their supply chain over the last 10 years.

At 3:20pm, in the final slots on the agenda Lavinia Ferguson, Membership and Communications Manager at NAFN Data and Intelligence Services presented their NAFN Covid-19 Business Grant Fraud Alert: Fraud Prevention and Recovery project. Lavinia shared that the project aimed to facilitate the quick, lawful, secure and effective sharing of intelligence via intelligence alerts distributed in real time and data sharing with the finance sector. This project was nominated for the Effective Information Sharing & Security Award and it was vital as NAFN is seen as a center of excellence for all public sector data intelligence needs, thus intel from various organisations enriches the NAFN database, as they see the need for these organisations to support each other, especially since the pandemic. Watch the video submission to learn more about the project.

Alongside the NAFN session, the final session of the day was for the TechMates: Digital Mentor Service Project by Wigan Council’s Digital Services Team. Liz Chapman, Digital Inclusion, Research and Engagement Officer, Paul Banks, Assistant Business Partner for Digital Inclusion Team and Tracey Boffey, Business Manager for Web, Digital Services and Inclusion at Wigan Council all presented their Digital Mentor Service. TechMates is delivered by volunteers and council staff to provide vital support for residents helping them access digital technology, Wi-Fi, and bespoke digital support over the telephone and via video calls. In 2021, they adopted ‘TechMate Tea Parties’, a regular newsletter for volunteers and automation of project administration. This project was nominated for the Transforming & Innovating Public Services Award. Watch their video submission to find out more about the project.

The Innovation Showcase was a fantastic opportunity to share innovation across the sector and celebrate those that have worked harder than ever before to transform our communities. We received dozens of nominations into the Innovation Awards 2020 and you can view all the projects in the Awards Brochure 2020. If you are thinking of nominating a project or initiative into the Innovation Awards then visit the Innovation Awards 2021 homepage where we will announce all key upcoming dates.