£1.4m project to foster sector innovation launched

The £1.2m Third Sector Innovation Exchange was officially launched this week with an additional £200,000 of funding from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, taking the total investment to £1.4m.

The exchange has been established by the Office of the Third Sector to foster innovation in the sector and explore ways of improving relationships between third sector social innovators, public service commissioners and social investors, such as grant-making foundations and the lottery.

It forms part of the Government’s Partnership in Public Services Action Plan, which aims to remove barriers to increased third sector involvement in public services.

The exchange will offer online resources and serve as a point of contact for social innovators and potential investors. It will also provide tailored support, training and guidance.

Valerie Hannon, director of strategy at the Innovation Unit, a government-funded body set up in 2002 to promote innovation and a lead partner behind the Innovation Exchange, said the exchange would initially build networks around two key themes: young people and supporting independent living.

Phil Hope, Minister for the Third Sector, said: “The Innovation Exchange provides much-needed recognition of the sector’s vital research and development and will help third sector organisations not to give away their best ideas, but to work together to improve them and to grow their own work.

“I am particularly pleased that the project will begin by focusing on young people and on adult social care – areas where there is a vast amount of untapped knowledge and creativity within the sector.”

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