Jessica Antley 09 September 2020

More than ever, UK businesses require help to be innovative

To say that 2020 has been a highly challenging year is somewhat of an understatement. For those that work in local government and for the citizens and businesses that we deliver services to, it’s been as challenging a time as any other in living memory.

Many of the businesses in the UK have been hit hard. They have had to adjust to most of the workforce suddenly working from home, with all the attendant cybersecurity, productivity and well-being challenges that come with that. Some businesses have had to cope with not even being open for several months and the cash-flow problems that come with that.

This all means that more innovation and collaboration is essential for businesses to survive and thrive. To encourage and support such collaboration, local councils must provide local businesses with the platform and tools to be innovative. At Worcestershire County Council (WCC), this has meant the recent launch of Worcestershire Innovation (WINN), an innovation platform which aims to drive crowd innovation across the county.

The need for a more innovation approach

The need for businesses to collaborate and innovate is not new. Even in Worcestershire – which in many ways is a thriving county for business – we are facing challenges such as skills shortages in key sectors, how to manage an ageing population and how to keep students in the area once they have finished studying.

Another key requirement is for smaller and more agile firms to connect with larger companies. There is much that can be learned from companies of different sizes, and the benefits and impact of shared best practice will be felt across the county.

Sustainable economic growth and business growth has long been a key priority for Worcestershire County Council and part of that commitment includes the WINN initiative. WINN had previously been focused on events and round-tables amongst its members, but we wanted a way to continue the idea sharing and collaboration on an on-going basis, and to scale-up the efforts that were already in place. When coronavirus took hold, the need for socially distanced collaboration became even greater.

A digital platform to drive innovation

The answer was found in our new innovation platform, which makes it easy for businesses and other organisations across the county to share ideas and best practice. Powered by Idea Spotlight, the idea management solution from software & services firm Wazoku, it provides a way to continue idea sharing and discover new opportunities.

Businesses can sign-up to the platform, develop a business profile, find supportive content, begin conversations and respond to challenges. We had started a successful pilot scheme in the fourth quarter of 2019, which placed user requirements at the centre of its operations. Iterations were made based on this feedback, including the ability for users to now ask direct questions. Now fully launched, we aim to get as many individuals and businesses signed up and engaging on the platform as possible.

It’s vital to give businesses the tools they need to keep talking and innovating together. Collaboration is essential in modern business and open innovation platforms that allow businesses to access the collective expertise and know-how of other organisations are a building block to future business success, in Worcestershire but across the rest of the UK too.

Even now, as the workplace tentatively comes to terms with new ways of working, it is a stressful time for businesses of all sizes. The uncertainty and pressure of running a business are currently unlike at any other time, and it stands to reason business owners and managers will want to connect with others. The WINN platform gives them the perfect way to do so.

Jessica Antley is senior project manager, innovation, at Worcestershire County Council

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Teacher of the Deaf

City of Bradford MDC
Band/Grade MPS / UPS + 1 or 2 SEN
We are seeking to recruit a creative, innovative and experienced Teacher of the Deaf to work in the Support Team for Deaf Children. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Registration Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£26,481 -£37,677
Do you want a fast-paced and varied role? Would you like to help people through some of the most important moments of their lives? Wandsworth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Head of Service – Adults Services South, Safeguarding & DoLS

Bolton Council
£51,772
It is an exciting time to join us as Head of Service for Safeguarding, DoLS and South District. Bolton, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Bolton Council

Apprenticeship

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£28,470 - £44,628
Kick-start your career with an apprenticeship based in Royal Borough of Greenwich. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Social Worker – Enhanced Social Care Support In Reach

Essex County Council
£32,787 to £44,826
We currently have an opportunity for a Social Worker to join our Countywide Enhanced Support In Reach Team. Essex / Countywide
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.