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Written Statement - Launch of new Innovate to Save Fund

Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government
Today, the Welsh Government is launching a new Innovate to Save fund, which will operate alongside our successful Invest to Save fund.

This is an important initiative in the context of the White Paper on Local Government Reform, which was published last month. 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 which citizens need.  

The new Innovate to Save fund, which the Welsh Government will support with a £5m investment, will enable organisations to test and explore ideas. It does not replace the established and extremely successful Invest to Save fund, which has been operating since 2009 and has supported more than 160 projects with an aggregate value of £157m. In addition to the £5m, which will be available through Innovate to Save in 2017-18, a further £15m will be available through Invest to Save.    

Innovate to Save is a unique partnership between the Welsh Government and Y Lab – itself a partnership between Cardiff University and the innovation charity Nesta. We will also work with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. This is an arrangement which will bring together government, a leading innovation organisation, an organisation with an internationally-recognised research capability and the third sector in Wales.

The new fund will provide repayable and non-repayable grant funding. The non- repayable element will support organisations to prototype, test and develop complex and innovative changes to the way in which services are delivered. Nesta and Cardiff University will work closely with organisations submitting proposals. The resources and experience we will be drawing on will allow us to bring forward a wider range of innovations than has been the case in the past.

All areas of the Welsh public and third sectors will be eligible to apply for Innovate to Save funding. We hope to see a range of projects coming forward, which will generate cash-releasing savings to be re-invested in services; improve outcomes for people, including quality of life and be able to be rolled out more widely. It is also intended to provide a lead in how we use research to develop and deliver new approaches and ways of working to create change in the public sector.

We hope to gain more experience and understanding of which complex interventions work and which do not. Lessons learned from each project will help to shape future ideas and will be made widely available.  

Representatives from each of the partner organisations will start work on the new fund immediately. I will update Assembly Members about progress in the future.