Innovation Labs

Presentation First Author: 
Elise Leclerc

Introduction: Young peoples use of technology has rapidly increased since the explosion in broadband speed and mobile access. Increasingly they want, and expect, support and services to be accessible through digital channels. Recognising this, in 2010 four voluntary sector funders (Comic Relief, Nominet Trust and Right Here - Paul Hamlyn Foundation/Mental Health Foundation) came together to create an Innovation Labs programme that could bring young people, digital developers and youth professionals together to: - Create digital tools to improve young peoples mental health and wellbeing - Increase the capacity of third sector organisations to work with users and digital developers to co-produce technological solutions to young peoples problems Innovation Labs Objectives - Deliver an Innovation Labs process (face to face and online) followed by a grant programme for turning selected Lab ideas into digital products - Chronicle and share the process of implementing co-production within a digital context as well as develop learning resources for the third sector - Involve young people at governance and decision making levels throughout the initiative Methods: The initiative began following a Comic Relief commissioned research paper by University of Warwick Medical School: The Role of Information and Communication Technology in Young People and Mental Health and feedback by Right Here National Champions on the need for digital tools to support their mental health. This inspired an alliance between the funding partners. Together they established a Project Board comprising even numbers of young people and funders/professionals, who commissioned Cernis, an independent organisation, to deliver two Innovation Labs. Cernis brought 101 young people, designers and professionals together, generating 194 ideas at the first lab (Dec 2011) before incubating them online. From this process eight ideas were taken forward for further development at a second Lab (Feb 2012). Eight ideas were included in the subsequent grant programme where the funders awarded development grants to seven digi-third sector partnerships. Work on the digital products development began in February 2013. Results: The initiative is being evaluated in three stages: 1.Process up to the awarding of grants 2.Development and marketing of the digital products 3.Long-term usage and effectiveness of the finished products (up to June 2015). The initiatives wider impact on the third sector is also being tracked. The ongoing learning from this process will be shared in ways that help the third sector address present and future challenges about providing mental health and wellbeing support to young people. Emerging Results: Bringing the funded organisations together is already generating learning and development around the use of empathic and user-centred design in enabling young people to co-produce digital products. The integration of participation, coproduction and design principles within the multi-disciplinary teams is generating a common language. This is being reported via the Labs website and further defined and validated by the evaluation. Implications and Conclusion: There is huge potential for both the third and public sectors to learn from the Innovation Labs initiative and evolve how they co-produce apps, websites, and other digital services for young people.

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
November, 2013
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