FAQs & Guidance

FAQs for Challenge Owners

If the answer to your query is not available here, please get in touch by emailing: CCRChallengeFund@cardiff.ac.uk

It’s a service delivery and/or a societal problem that a public or third sector organisation would like solved, for which there is no off-the-shelf solution already in existence. The Challenge Fund supports innovators (we call them Solution Providers) to prototype, test and develop new products and services, so that ultimately these can go out to the commercial market.

Public and third sector organisations active in the Cardiff Capital Region wishing to develop and run a challenge. Any organisation that applies to the fund must be subject to state aid rules.

The fund welcomes applications for challenges that sit within the Cardiff Capital Region. This consists of the following local authorities:

Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Newport, and Cardiff.

First, you need a societal or public service delivery problem which you would like to be solved, a problem which has no existing ‘off-the-shelf’ solution! We can help you turn this into a great brief for potential Solution Providers — a brief that is clear, invites innovation, and succinctly maps out the public and technical landscapes which the solution needs to work in.

Challenge Owners are responsible for running the day-to-day tasks, as well as managing the Challenge budget. The total outlay for phases 1, 2 and 3 varies with each Challenge. Whilst the Challenge Fund is open to funding 100% of the challenge costs, contributions from applicants, and other partners, are preferred.

It is vital that you have knowledge and experience of the problem or issue which you would like solved. You’ll need to use all your knowledge, experience, and insight, to contribute towards real and meaningful co-production and the sharing of ideas, as this is the only way truly great solutions emerge.

Finally, commitment and capacity are essential. There is a considerable focus and time commitment required. We anticipate you’ll need to allocate at least half a day a week towards your challenge during phase 1 – though we have found that many Challenge Owners allocate more time when they see the results from active, meaningful engagement in the Challenge process. Throughout the process you will have the Challenge Fund delivery team supporting you.

1. Form partnerships

If you’re a public or third sector body in the Cardiff Capital Region, consider partnering with another public or third sector body in the region to identify challenges and ways of scaling solutions as a community. Strong collaborations allow the sharing of different expertise and perspectives, and increases capacity for delivery, learning and support.

2. Be clear on the benefits

The strongest applications we receive are those that demonstrate clear alignment to the Challenge Fund strategic themes, and clearly articulate how they would deliver positive impact for service users and wider society.

Similarly, demonstrating a clear and detailed explanation of what makes the challenge innovative and how it goes beyond ‘business-as-usual’ for your organisation, will also be beneficial to your application.

3. Consider wider opportunities for the innovative solutions your project will generate

Submissions that have considered how potential challenge solutions could be adapted or taken to market across the region, nationally and beyond, are particularly attractive. Who else has a similar issue that would benefit from the solution to your challenge? This is very important when it comes to incentivising potential Solution Providers to respond to your challenge.

The Challenge Fund is focused on wealth building as one of its societal aims, so challenges with potential to motivate solution providers to develop and scale innovations are key.

4. What could a good outcome look like?

It is important to stress that while Challenge Fund applications should avoid dictating the solution, you should consider and explain what a positive outcome could look like.  Talk to people with lived and professional experience. Do some research. What have others with a similar challenge done, and why is that not suitable for your challenge?

5. Have a clear plan for resourcing and delivery of the Challenge

The strongest submissions detail their management strategy, including clear success criteria, timescales, and how procurement will be actively involved during the Challenge.

They also include a thorough overview of potential risks, and how they could be mitigated. Demonstrating how the delivery plan would align with the proposed budget is also key.

6. Don’t Give Up!

Innovation is about trying things, failing, and learning from them. This applies to submissions, as well as delivery of challenge projects.

If your submission is in scope and unsuccessful, but needs further development, our Challenge Fund delivery team can support you with introductions, facilitation of discussions, and other tailored support, for a resubmission.

If we don’t think your project is in scope for the Challenge Fund, we will try to direct you to other support options that might be beneficial.

These are the things we ask prospective Challenge Owners to consider so, if your submission is successful, we can shape a great brief for potential solution providers to respond to:

  • What the problem is, its background and context, why it’s important, the benefits of solving it, and who would benefit.

  • Why you’re focused on this Challenge, any attempts you’ve made to find a solution, and why they’re not fit for purpose.

  • Who are the end users? Are there user groups related to them?

  • What you’d like to see from the solution, and what success would look like

  • What’s in it for the successful Solution Provider? What’s the anticipated commercial opportunity, from direct initial contracts procured by your organisation to national and international market potential?

  • What resources are you providing? Of course, there’s money, data, knowledge, and commitment, but what about other things such as interns, citizen groups, and sales opportunities?

  • We have found it is crucial to get input from the people responsible for procurement from the outset, this ensures what is being developed will not only be fit-for-purpose but can potentially be procured by your organisation.

Organisations are welcome to submit multiple bids during one single round of funding. The key is to ensure that there is no overlap of Challenge ideas with each submission.

We encourage collaboration as this both increases the pool of good ideas and the capacity to develop and deliver the challenge, whilst also increasing the potential market for successful solutions.

The Challenge Fund provides finance for solutions to be developed, tested and achieve first implementation.  Costs associated with the project management and administration of the challenge will be eligible if they are fundamental to the successful delivery.

Challenge scale and budget may vary considerably depending on the nature of the problem and the likely costs incurred in developing innovative solutions. Challenge Owners may wish to contribute additional funding to the Challenges and/or identify suitable funding partners.

Funding partners may reside outside of the Cardiff Capital Region.

Prospective Challenge Owners are encouraged to discuss the budget for their specific challenge with the CCR Challenge Fund Team.

Why should public sector organisations get involved in challenge-led innovation?

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