Call for Techies & Next steps

We’re looking for the best tech talent to help Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations in Northern Ireland create great new digital products through the Techies in Residence Programme. Each project comes with £8,000 toward salary contribution, as well as opening up potential partnerships in new areas for your business.

The Techies in Residence (TiR) Programme brings together social challenges from charities and social enterprises with digital technology professionals to produce innovative digital solutions, products and services that have potential for scalable social impact.

Funded by Comic Relief, the programme which was originally designed by Building Change Trust as part of the Social Innovation NI collaboration has supported 19 innovative projects across Northern Ireland since it was launched in 2015. It sees VCSE organisations matched with tech professionals to help them solve a social challenge using digital technology. The programme is managed and delivered by Innovate-NI in partnership with the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.

We have shortlisted from 34 challenges to 6 projects this year and we’ve opened our call for tech talent- to enable us to match the projects with the required skills and expertise. Some of these projects will turn out to be commercialisable and it is expected that they can potentially be further developed between the VCSE organisations and their tech counterparts post-Techies in Residence support. Over the course of a 12-week placement period, the techies will build, as a minimum, a prototype solution to the issues outlined within this catalogue, as well as helping to bring different ways of creative thinking to the organisations they work with.

We’re interested in hearing from people with a range of technical skills and possible solutions to the problems. If you work in any tech role and want to express interest in the programme, please complete the form below and we’ll send you through the project catalogue.

Next Steps
9 January 2019 – Expression of interest Call for Techies Opens
22 February 2019 – potential Techies meet with the VCSE challenge owners
5/6 or 6/7 March 2019 – Final Date TBC

To register your interest- please click here

Techies in Residence Info Sessions

Techies in Residence Info Sessions

The Techies in Residence Programme are hosting a number of workshops aimed at the VCSE community to give people a little insight into the programme, what are the steps and what type of project would suit the programme. We’re hosting these at a range of venues across Northern Ireland, over lunch times, and the Innovate-NI team will be on hand to help answer any questions about the programme, what the supports on offer are, and also with case studies of projects that we’ve supported in the past and how Techies in Residence helped them on their journey.

The dates of the programme are:

  • Mid Ulster
    06/11/18- Burnavon Arts & Cultural Centre, Burn Road, Cookstown. 09:00-12:30
  • Derry City & Strabane- Launch of Strategic Plan for NWCN, contact Roisin to register
    08/11/18- Holywell Trust, 10-14 Bishop Street, Derry BT48 6PW, 12:30-14:00
  • Causeway Coast & Glens
    12/11/18- Garvagh & District Development Association, 85 Main Street, Garvagh, 12:30-14:00
  • Derry City & Strabane
    13/11/18- Holywell Trust, 10-14 Bishop Street, Derry, BT48 6PW, 12:30-14:00
  • Newry Mourne & Down
    14/11/18- Newry & Mourne Enterprise Agency, 27 WIN Business Park Road, Newry, BT35 6PH, 12:30-14:00
  • Greater Belfast (How to get the best out of Social Media Event)
    15/11/18 –  Conference room, Social Economy Village, Work West, 1B Hannahstown Hill, Belfast, BT17 0XS 09:30-12:30
  • Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon (Social Economy Event)
    15/11/18- Ulster Carpets, Garvaghy Road, Portadown, 12:00-14:00
  • Greater Belfast
    16/11/18- NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast, BT15 2GB
  • Lisburn & Castlereagh
    22/11/18-Elm Room, Civic Headquarters, Lisburn BT27 4RL- 12:30-14:00

Each of the sessions is free, but for catering purposes, please register at the links provided. Some of these events are in conjunction with other events and are listed as such.

What is Techies in Residence?

Digital technology holds huge potential to help the VCSE sector develop new solutions to social problems. The Techies in Residence programme, now in its fourth year, brings together the respective expertise of digital technology experts and the VCSE sector to create, develop and implement new digital social innovations in Northern Ireland.

Social Innovation simply refers to the creation and implementation of new solutions to social problems, that are more effective or efficient than existing solutions. Community Foundation NI is committed to supporting the Northern Ireland Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector to expand its knowledge and practice in the field of social innovation.

Techies in Residence harnesses technical expertise from Northern Ireland’s leading technology firms to support new social innovation projects devised by local VCSE sector organisations.

The Techies in Residence programme is an initiative of Social Innovation NI, managed by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, and is funded by Comic Relief. Innovate-NI have been appointed by the Foundation as Managing Agent for the ongoing development and delivery of Techies in Residence.

In this session, we’ll provide information for the Techies in Residence Programme and outline how your organisation can benefit and get involved.


Digital DNA pitch success for Techies in Residence

Digital DNA pitch success for Techies in Residence

Six participants from the Techies in Residence social innovation programme celebrated success today after securing over £85,000 in funding from a panel of experts at Digital DNA. The programme, which had over thirty initial applicants, will provide £85,000 in support to Mencap NI, Children’s Law Centre, Shelter NI, uHub, Housing Rights NI and Parenting NI, all of whom will take forward delivering on their respective social innovation projects.

The programme supported by Building Change Trust brings together social challenges from charities and social enterprises with digital and technology professionals to produce innovative digital products and services over up to twelve weeks.   This the third year the programme has been run by Innovate-NI with support from Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.

This morning ten VCSE organisations pitched for additional funding, having started the process in early 2018 and received support and mentoring at various milestones.  Like the Trust’s ‘Social Innovation Skills’ programme, charities and techies go through a creative problem-solving process, where the needs of the end user are the focus, rather than what the charity or the techie thinks they might be.

Successful projects include a one stop online resource developed by uHub which will enable those with mental health difficulties to self-support and access services and a Housing Rights NI resource to help make it easier for tenants to navigate the private rental sector.  Funding was also awarded to Mencap NI who will harness virtual reality to enable people with learning difficulties to be engaged with society, and Parenting NI who want to reach as many parents as possible and make them aware of the help and support available to them through a new app. In addition, Shelter NI have secured funding to deliver a trusted trader scheme for vulnerable housing tenants, and the final recipient the Children’s Law Centre will create an anonymous chat bot to provide information to young people on their legal rights.

Reflecting on the Techies in Residence programme and the funding announcement, Paul Braithwaite, Programme Leader at Building Change Trust said,

“We’ve been so impressed by the quality of the pitches today, it was difficult to make a decision from the ten shortlisted.  Those who have been successful demonstrated that their new solution could have multiple applications beyond the immediate problem for which it was developed. This is particularly important in the resource constrained environment of the VCSE sector.”

Congratulating the winners, Clare McGee from Innovate-NI added;

“This is our third year running the Techies in Residence programme.  We are delighted that so many organisations want to make real progress in addressing these social challenges.  This seed fund will support the final six to continue their journey and reflects the appetite for social innovation within the VCSE sector.”

Meet the Techies- Damgeo

Meet the Techies- Damgeo

We get to work with excellent tech talent, solving social challenges, and now we sit down with Damien Caldwell from Damgeo, who is working closely with uHub.

  • Tell me a little about yourself and your organisation

I am a digitisation consultant for DAMGEO LTD, we specialise in the conversion of processes, content and learning into engaging and interactive digital experiences:

  • What attracted you to the Techies in Residence Programme?

It was recommended by an old colleague that now works for Work West Enterprise Agency (Helen Lunny).

  • What attracted you to working with (the organisation you’re working with)?

Initially it was suggested by Clare McGee, once I realised the amazing aim of this web application and met the team at the residential there was no turning back.  Cara and Pam are a force of nature and have been brilliant at delivering all comms and the message that I need to digitise from the start, they are never afraid to say they don’t like something, but always have an enhancement suggestion, which is all a developer can ask for when designing a solution like this in such an agile way within a pretty tight timeframe.

  • Tell us a little about what’s exciting about this project?

Working with 2 people that are doing this because they care and have no interest in profit or what they actually get in return.  Cara and Pam have been an inspiration to me, in the computing/digital world it is all about profit margins and networking to win contracts.  They are making me see what is over the commercial proposition, which has just been an amazing experience for me and the company.

  • What challenges do you think you’re going to face in this process?

This solution has vast potential, the initial challenge is realising what is possible in this programme, however, we also want to push forward the other items outside scope of this phase that could make this app very special and become a universal solution to mental health issues.

  • What scope do you see for your solution beyond Northern Ireland?

Mental health issues are not exclusive to NI, with consideration of languages and localised content coming through automated APIs there is no reason why this is not shippable to anywhere in the world.

Meet the Techies- Katherine from Kippie

Meet the Techies- Katherine from Kippie

We’re honoured to work with some of the best tech talent in Northern Ireland through Techies in Residence, including Kippie– we sat down with Katherine, one of the co founders.

I’m Katherine Rowlandson, manager at Kippie CIC. We comprise of a manager (me) graphic designer and animator (Justine) and Caroline (programmer) and we mainly make digital games with and for different organisations. We help community groups, charities and companies to tell their story through simple 2D games, and provide a tailor made programme of workshops, designed to teach a range of transferable skills through the process of making a computer game, from concept through to market.

We were attracted to the TiR programme because we are really interested in ways that technology can improve people’s lives, particularly creative digital content, which is why we were drawn to working with Parenting NI. We felt that we could use both Justine’s talents as a designer and Caroline’s programming skills to respond to their brief : looking for a friendly and accessible platform for parents to access help and advice.

Working with an organisation that is doing so much in so many different ways to provide help and advice, and is in constant contact with their users has been really exciting for us – the access to focus groups and their feedback has been great, and the staff at Parenting NI, who have been so organised and clear about what they need, while being open to and interested in different ways of delivering the content, have been a real joy to work with.

In terms of challenges, I think the thing we will find difficult is keeping the size of the project manageable, the team at PNI have come up with some amazing ideas, and we here at Kippie keep coming up with different ways we could respond to the issues PNI are addressing, that it becomes hard to remember this is a prototype project with limited time and resources. We hope that this prototype of a ‘pocket parenting advice centre’ with its friendly feel will be of real use to parents who aren’t ready or able to contact the charity directly, both here in Northern Ireland and beyond.

The Techies in Residence programme is an initiative of Social Innovation NI, managed by the Building Change Trust, which in turn has been funded by Big Lottery Fund and also Comic Relief. Innovate NI have been appointed by the Trust as Managing Agent for the ongoing development and delivery of Techies in Residence.