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Vicky is programme director Connected Local Government, a regular host on CLGdotTV programmes and has served public sector IT for more than 25 years

@vickysargent

How can public sector take up of SME innovation be increased?

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Business mentor Bethan Bishop has years of experience fostering innovation within the NHS and now works with SMEs aspiring to work with public sector organisations

CLGdotTV will be talking with Beth regularly in 2019, and with some of the SMEs she mentors, to better understand the difficulties innovators face in getting their good ideas taken up by public sector organisations.

In this introductory conversation, Beth suggests there is general acceptance in the NHS and elsewhere the public sector that harnessing innovation from SMEs is ‘a good thing’.

But making this a reality is a different matter. Traditionally, public sector organisations have not been geared up to buy ‘innovation’ and increasingly formalised procurement processes are pushing them to be over-prescriptive in their specifications.

Innovation schemes and associated funding need to foster and enable collaboration and partnerships with SMEs, since sustainable innovation will only come from deep understanding of challenges that need to be overcome. This can take weeks of work, which, as Beth points out, is well illustrated in this video about a project to improve outcomes around hospital discharge, developed by Essex County Council working in collaboration with SME Futuregov.

Expecting SMEs to work from outside complex public sector organisations and come up with fully finished, readily procurable products and services is not realistic. Within the NHS, initiatives being developed by Academic Health Science Networks are helping, while in the local authority sector, the Department of Communities’ Local Digital Fund is enabling SMEs to work alongside councils on a range of exploratory ‘discovery ‘ projects

 
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On 6th February 2019 we will be making five programmes about 'smart lives' in front of a studio audience. You could be in front of the camera or in our expert audience.

Check out the programme and book your (free) place in the audience on our eventbrite page.

Seats on panels are by invitation. Contact Ben Webber b.webber@boilerhouse.co.uk with detail of what you'd like to contribute.

 

 

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