An innovative scheme to get local people together to help solve some of the major issues facing UK cities has won worldwide acclaim at a global innovation summit and awards ceremony in Brazil (2 May).
Created by City of York Council in partnership with SCY, GeniUS! invites residents, community groups, businesses, innovators and academics to share their ideas on how to solve key problems facing the city, such as ageing population, the environment, energy and the economy through an online forum.
City of York Council has committed to taking the best ideas forward for the city, with support from NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and its Creative Councils Programme, and is one of the first local authorities in the country to use ‘open innovation’ methods to tackle some of the problems facing local communities.
Cllr James Alexander, Labour leader of City of York Council said: “This award is a fantastic endorsement for the GeniUS! scheme and its creative and collaborative approach to developing better, long-lasting and relevant services for the city. Councils across the country are facing huge financial and demographic challenges and we believe that local people can provide some of the answers to how we might tackle some of the key issues of our generation.
“We hope that winning the award will enable us to promote this innovative way of working to other local authorities and cities across the UK and internationally.”
City of York Council Chief Executive, Kersten England, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the potential of the GeniUS! scheme has been recognised in a global context. The future demands we need to work together as communities to tackle the challenges we face and this kind of initiative aims to engage everyone in finding innovative solutions that we as a council can support and develop for the benefit of all.”
The scheme beat off stiff international competition from a long list of 92 initiatives to claim the Living Labs Global Award* in the ‘Open Government for Business Innovation’ category.
Winning the award means the GeniUS! York team will get the opportunity to export the benefits of the scheme to other cities around the world – first stop, Cape Town in South Africa where the team will be heading to work alongside city heads in the Western Cape’s provincial city to develop its own version of the scheme later this year.
Heather Niven, leading SCY's involvement in GeniUS!, commented: “We immediately recognised the parallel between Cape Town’s desire to develop an ‘innovation ecosystem’ between the business community, residents and city administration and our very own initiative. The awards presented a fantastic opportunity for York to celebrate the hard work and on-going development of York’s innovative approach to problem-solving. It’s a phenomenal achievement.”
A bid has been submitted to NESTA’s Creative Councils Programme for stage two of the GeniUS! programme which could see the council awarded £150,000 to take forward suggestions from the scheme and promote it to other councils and cities nationally.
A short video has been created in support of the bid which can be viewed below this article.
For more information on Living Labs Global Awards visit http://www.llga.org/