Collaboration is key at Challenge Fund Community of Practice launch event

Table discussion at the CoP event


On Tuesday 12th of July, the CCR (Cardiff Capital Region) Challenge Fund launched its Community of Practice, bringing together public and third sector professionals at the state-of-the-art sbarc|SPARK Innovation Campus.

The purpose of the event was to nurture collaboration, to generate ideas on how the Community of Practice (CoP) can best serve and support its members, and to discuss innovation in public services. The event also included an exhibition space for Challenge Fund partners, and the Cardiff-based Rescape Innovation provided a demonstration of the Virtual Reality solution they co-developed with Cardiff & Vale UHB to tackle their Simulation Training Challenge.


Rick Delbridge introducing the CoP event


The opening words belonged to Professor Rick Delbridge, who leads the delivery of the CCR Challenge Fund at Cardiff University. Lightning talks from the Challenge Fund and its partners and collaborators followed, with brief presentations of their activity and scope in the field of innovation.

The Challenge Fund itself was introduced by CCR Head of Challenges Gareth Browning, who talked about the programme’s aims and current funded challenges. Next, Professor James Lewis presented Y Lab’s model for engaging with public services and case studies of their impact.

Infuse (Innovative Future Services) was represented by Programme Manager Owen Wilce, discussing its major themes of Accelerating Decarbonisation and Supporting Communities, and the challenges that participants worked on within these themes.



Jill Davies, Project Manager at CEIC (Circular Economy Innovation Communities), described the circular economy concept and CEIC’s 10 month programme designed to help organisations adopt a circular economy approach in innovation.

Closing the first session, Kate Williams (Welsh Government) introduced the SBRI Centre of Excellence and its work with public sector to identify unmet needs in health and social care.


Collaboration and Support are key words for the Community of Practice


Cheryl mentimeter session


In the second half of the event, Cheryl Moore, Programme Manager of the Challenge Fund, encouraged attendees to bring forward their ideas for the user-led Community of Practice, and talk about innovation more widely.  An introduction to the online Forum was also shown.

The feedback received highlighted the need for engagement, collaboration, and a shared vision for the Community of Practice. Participants stressed that the online community should be a safe space for sharing information and a repository for learning, but also the importance of face-to-face events and conversations. In a Mentimeter poll, “collaboration”, “support” and “sharing” emerged as the most important key words describing expectations for the Community of Practice.

Risk-averse organisations, restrictive processes, conflicting priorities and reactive approaches were all identified as possible barriers to innovation, but there is a strong drive for change and serving the public better. Participants also shared potential ideas for challenges, touching on topics related to housing, social care, financial vulnerability, and community initiatives.


Fran illustrating at the CoP event


Throughout the event, feedback was captured as an illustration by the talented Fran O’Hara from Scarlet Design International. An electronic version will be posted on the Challenge Fund website, to allow more feedback and ideas to be captured electronically as the community grows.

The Challenge Fund team will use this feedback to shape its approach to the Community of Practice going forward. We are very thankful to all attendees, speakers and exhibitors for their contributions. Please watch this space for more upcoming developments, and don’t hesitate to contact us at with any queries or suggestions.


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