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- 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.

Meet the Techies- Richard from Zoo Creative

Meet the Techies- Richard from Zoo Creative

We’re working with some of the best tech talent in Northern Ireland as part of Techies in Residence, including Richard from Zoo Creative who is leading on the project with Shelter NI.

Tell me a little about yourself and your organisation

I have been working as a designer/programmer for over 20 years. I started life making call management tools and e-learning back in Stream to help agents log calls and monitor their stats through out the day. I then started up in Zoocreative back in 2006 and have been developing web solutions and designing all kinds of things for the past 12 years. We like to think we are very versatile here at Zoocreative and over the years have tried our hand at many things from hand drawn maps for the Return of Colmcille in 2013 to making complex educational tools for clients like Izak9.

What attracted you to the Techies in Residence Programme?

Ever since I was a child I have loved solving problems. Back then it was “spot the difference” and logic puzzles but the principal is the same. I enjoy the challenge of finding a solution to tackle a problem. The Techies in Residence Programme is a great opportunity for organisations to tackle problems they are having by linking them with local techies that they might not have known about or had the opportunity to work with. This not only gives them a viable tool to invest further time in but it also allows techies to unleash their creative abilities to help tackle these problems.

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

I really like the idea of creating a system to help streamline the process for people in need. The work carried out by these tradespeople is vital to their quality of life and it’s important that it’s carried out by the right people. Putting the control of this in the hands of the customer not only gives them that opportunity but it also frees up vital time for the staff at Shelter to help those who really need it. However, it also helps the traders that really shine at this kind of work to get the recognition they deserve for doing great work for those that really need it.

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

I think it’s exciting to think that this project will help those in need by giving them a simple online process to submit, quote and rate the jobs they need to give them a better quality of life. I am aware that some people will still use the older system but even removing some of those jobs from the pipeline will allow the staff to spend more time on the more complex jobs that need more face to face help.

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

I think the biggest challenge will be ensuring that everyone is happy with the process, especially the traders. We need to make sure that the system does not give them the impression that the customer has all the control and they will be fighting for work or penalised for trivial issues.

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

I think this kind of solution would be very easily adopted outside Northern Ireland. Although other solutions do exist in a similar vain. I believe this solution offers a solution to a very specific market. The programme in its current pen and paper mode only serves the North West of Northern Ireland but we already feel that by offering an online version this could be expanded to include all of Northern Ireland.

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.

Meet the Techies- Ciaran from Zoo Creative

Meet the Techies- Ciaran from Zoo Creative

We’re working with some of the best tech talent in Techies in Residence, including Richard from Zoo Creative, who are working with Housing Rights on their project.

  • Tell me a little about yourself and your organisationMy name is Ciaran Harley and I set up Zoocreative in 2003, having first worked in other design studios … and not particularly enjoyed the experience.  I was joined by Mr Richard Walsh (the Talented Mr Walsh) in 2006. Since then, we have ploughed our own field, working hard to define the exact work we want to do and who we want to do that work for.  We have at times “taken a few wrong turns” but after 15 years, we now have a good idea of who we are. If Zoocreative entered “First Dates” on Channel 4, I would describe it a small, opinionated / feisty,  attractive and somewhat voluptuous creative studio. That should attract a few potential dates. Or perhaps not 🙂

    • What attracted you to the Techies in Residence Programme?

    We enjoy working with 3rd Sector / charity organisations. It appeals to our politics and our sensibilities. The vast majority of our work is in this sector and it has been the source of our greatest pleasures and achievements.

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

    Housing Rights NI offer protection for people to securely enjoy one of the most fundamental human rights … the right to a roof over your head. It is easy for us to see the value in working with an organisation like this and we hope that our work with Housing Rights NI makes a difference.

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

    Our project with Housing Rights NI could potentially bring critical information and therefore timely intervention to people facing the threat of homelessness.

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

    The challenges we face include ensuring that our solution speaks to everyone and not just a subsection of potential users, as renters can obviously be any age for example. Our solution needs to have broad appeal and deliver the right information to people while maintaining their interest.

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

    Wherever there are humans there are homes … and therefore potential homelessness. I think that the solution itself (technologically speaking) could easily be adapted to function in differing housing contexts in different countries. The fundamentals are the same, only the specifics would possibly need updated.

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.

 

Meet the Projects- Parenting NI

Meet the Projects- Parenting NI

We’re working with some of the best organisations across the VCSE sector in Northern Ireland through Techies in Residence. We asked each of them their views on why they got involved in the project, and what they want to get out of it.

Tell us a little about your organisation.

Parenting NI is a regional parent support organisation providing services throughout Northern Ireland. We are committed to supporting all parents and ensuring that their voices are heard whenever decisions are made that will affect them. Our aim is to improve the outcomes for children and young people through supporting parents using a prevention and early intervention model. Parenting NI empowers parents to make positive changes through increasing parents’ skills and knowledge about their parenting role, specifically promoting positive parenting and the authoritative style of parenting. This is achieved through the delivery of a range of high quality support and services to meet parent’s needs.

What do you hope to achieve from the Techies in Residence Programme?

Parenting NI is hoping the support from the Techies in Residence programme will enable the development of technology which is easily accessible, parent friendly, provides useful support and advice with an aim to develop and build the parent/child relationship and in turn improve the outcomes for children.

What challenge is your organisation trying to address?

Parenting NI is hoping the support from the Techies in Residence programme will enable the development of technology which is easily accessible, parent friendly, provides useful support and advice with an aim to develop and build the parent/child relationship and in turn improve the outcomes for children.

Parenting NI continuously listens to the needs of parents and works to identify challenges and social problems and offers support to address these. The challenge Parenting NI is trying to address through the Techies in Residence programme is to increase our range of services and reach out to more parents to provide them with the support they need at the time they need it. Parents have told us that some of their greatest challenges included rural isolation, not knowing where to access support, being afraid that they will be judged as a bad parent, not being open to ask for help due to previous negative experiences and the support not being available at the time when they need it the most.

What’s the largest impact that Techies in Residence will have on your organisation?

In supporting Parenting NI to develop an innovative tool for parents to access support, Techies in Residence will help the organisation reach more parents. This has a wider impact on making support more accessible for all parents. By creating a tool that presents support information in a creative way, it is hoped that this will reduce the stigma for parents in accessing support and become a gateway for them to access other services.

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.

Meet the Projects- Shelter NI

Meet the Projects- Shelter NI

We’re working with some of the best organisations across the VCSE sector in Northern Ireland through Techies in Residence. We asked each of them their views on why they got involved in the project, and what they want to get out of it.

 

Shelter NI’s vision is to eliminate long term homelessness and poor housing, ensuring all households in Northern Ireland have the right of access to warm, decent, affordable, safe and secure homes. We are currently fighting a losing battle as homelessness is rising. As well as campaigning for strategic, policy, process and legal reforms to tackle homelessness, Shelter NI provides services to young homeless people and to older and disabled people who need their home adapted to maintain their independence. We plan to grow by reinvesting surplus funds into new initiatives and expanding existing services to meet need in new locations.

  • The aim of the Trusted Trader Scheme is to alleviate some of these stresses, by providing clients with traders who have been proven to deliver reliable, cost effective services in an appropriate manner. This information enables them to make independent decisions regarding their homes with greater confidence.
  • GABLE  works with an average of 500 older and disabled clients applying for an NIHE grant. The main problem is that most applicants find it difficult to select a contractor and increasingly applicants look to us for guidance about selecting a suitable contractor. Many of our clients are vulnerable people in need of a straight forward and simple process that minimises stress.
  • It will increase our reach enabling us to help a greater range of people across Northern Ireland as currently because of resourcing we are limited to the Northwest area only. Ultimately empowering more people to access services which will help them maintain and upkeep their homes resulting in safer and securer home lives.

 

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.