News

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, announces projects to be funded under €1 million Public Service Innovation Fund

  • 34 public service projects funded.
  • Innovations supported from across Health, Justice, Education, Defence, State Agency, Local Government sectors and Civil Service.
  • Public service innovation accelerates in response to Covid crisis.

Press Release, 23rd July 2020: 34 diverse projects have successfully secured funding from this year’s call under the Public Service Innovation Fund, an initiative of the Our Public Service 2020 reform strategy for development and innovation in the Public Service.
The Fund, now in its second year, is a competition designed to support innovation from public service bodies to promote collaboration and new and better approaches to service delivery.
This year’s call saw an increase of 168 per cent in applications for funding over the 2019 pilot. A total of 364 project proposals were received from organisations in all sectors of the Public Service – Civil Service, Defence Forces, Education Sector, Health Sector, Local Government, Justice Sector and Non-Commercial State Agencies.

Announcing the results, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, said, “This year we have seen how, now more than ever, there is a need for our Public Service to be agile, innovative and responsive to the myriad of challenges facing the country. Cross-public service collaboration is outlined in the Programme for Government as a priority and this collaboration between our public service organisations, business and research communities is essential to drive the development of new ways of working and designing and delivering better services for the public.

“The projects receiving funding this year clearly demonstrate the willingness of public servants to work together to find better solutions. It is imperative that we create value in every public project embarked on, whether in healthcare, our emergency services, digital delivery of public services or education for our young people.”

The portfolio of projects contains a diverse selection of innovations from around the country and across all sectors of the Public Service. Many are collaborative and have demonstrated evidence of their potential to scale and transfer within, and in some cases outside their own sectors.

Projects will be realised in 2020 with funding available of between €10,000 and €50,000 per project. The 34 successful projects (see full list here) display many types of innovation being employed across all sectors:

  • The Nimbus Centre in Cork Institute of Technology will work with Cork County Council to develop a housing and building energy monitoring system;
  • Digitalisation of our systems is imperative for all public service organisations but in some cases, has the potential to save lives. A move from manual to digital reporting of key parameters such as blood pressure, pulse rate and temperature in hospitals is the central objective of the HSE Digital Transformation Unit’s National Early Warning Score System (NEWS) project;
  • A virtual reality housing inspection phone application in Monaghan County Council;
  • A climate action outreach programme for primary schools in County Clare;
  • Virtual reality treatment for social anxiety in teenagers in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon;
  • A user-centred design process to reduce outpatient ‘no-shows’ in hospitals;
  • A new sign language video application to increase the provision of public services to the Deaf Community; and
  • A citizen engagement platform, which will inform prioritisation and policy formation in policing.

The appetite to adopt new and emerging technologies in public services is also evident. Projects include:

  • In St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork, occupational therapists have proposed a new upper limb rehabilitation programme through Virtual Reality (VR) to enhance treatment of stroke patients;
  • The Defence Forces will develop a VR system to support training for helicopter rescue missions;
  • Remote applications include a telemedicine application for National Ambulance Service staff and a Forensic Science Ireland mobile app which will provide access to An Garda Síochána to forensics procedures;
  • Development of tools to calculate carbon emissions for SMEs and the nutritional needs for pre-term infants;
  • Optimal use of data including collecting data from a new Internet of Things (IoT) testbed in Fingal to monitor and find solutions to traffic congestion. A National Building Open Data Portal will be created, allowing open access to accurate and current housing activity data. Data analytics is a key component of a new Digital Innovation Assessment Tool being developed for both public and private sector bodies.

 

Congratulating the successful organisations, Robert Watt, Secretary General in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), said, “It is imperative for our Public Service Organisations to continue to strengthen their innovation capacity and DPER initiatives such as the innovation fund create a mechanism to support and pilot innovations that can be scaled and transferred to other parts of the Public Service.
“The variety of applications received this year prove that there is an abundance of ideas, knowledge and readiness for innovation in all sectors of the Public Service. Since the crisis, I have witnessed our organisations innovate in a way that may not have been conceivable just a few months ago and faster than would have previously thought possible. We need to build on this momentum, sustain these innovations and the burgeoning innovation culture that’s been flourishing. With the fast pace of global and technological change, exponential growth in data, and increasingly complex global challenges, our Public Service needs to be ready and have the capacity to respond. This fund is a way to support public servants, in particular in getting their innovative projects off the ground.”

Describing the projects funded this year, Dr Lucy Fallon-Byrne, Head of Reform, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said, “In the mix are projects that use new technologies such as sensor technologies and the Internet of Things (IOT), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Virtual Reality (VR).

“Some of the successful projects will digitise processes to create efficiencies in time and money. Other projects address aspects of major societal and environment issues by creating new ways of working on mental health challenges, recidivism, energy monitoring and climate change. The common factor among all projects selected is their potential for positive impact on the service user or public service organisation.”

A full list of successful projects is available online: https://www.ops2020.gov.ie/networks/funding/projects-funded-in-2020/ 

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