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Unpicking the stickiest issues of the public sector: the beginning of the journey for CDC & Capacity

Every year programmes are run across the country focusing on ‘innovation’ in health, social care, and other public sector fields. Sometimes that word gets so overused that those being invited can struggle to clearly understand the ask of them. We know we’re not short on creativity across the LCR, but often the problems solutions are designed to address are misunderstood. For ideas to be adopted, businesses and the voluntary sector need to start by developing their knowledge and awareness of the environments, culture and sector intricacies, that make these problems so difficult to solve.

So, there was a need, a need to bring together businesses with the public and third sector: with the people who’ve studied, or have actually been working within these problems, to explore deeper and develop more fit-for-purpose solutions as a collective.  

By trying to better understand the public sector’s biggest challenges, we could better design new products and services that meet them.

This wasn’t just about opening doors between the sectors; it was about taking them off the hinges!

And with that, the Civic Data Cooperative’s ‘What’s your problem?’ series was created.

About Civic Data Cooperative

Civic Data Cooperative (CDC for short) is a data-sharing platform that enables better health and care for people everywhere.

Funded by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the CDC aims to mobilise civic data sets across the Region to create a vibrant, internationally visible civic data environment – allowing residents’ data to work harder for them in shaping better care and fuelling globally important innovations from the LCR.

What did CDC want to achieve?

CDC wanted to support people and organisations to better understand and act in the best way possible on the insights that civic data showed. They had a mission to help provide innovative solutions to real life problems, facilitating access to open sources of data and testing models for ethical and inclusive health of data.

How Capacity helped

In September 2021, CDC launched their ambitious programme ‘Design Thinking for Health’, with the desire to get under the skin of the role that SMEs play in using data when designing solutions for public services. This complex and complicated landscape required unpicking for CDC to understand how they could contribute to the LCR in order to bring about real meaningful change and impact.

This was first product CDC launched and alongside delivering the programme. It also created the opportunity for CDC to build their culture, release their brand and establish themselves as a leading player in the role of data in public services and the SME economy in LCR.

To support the delivery of this programme, CDC commissioned the help of Capacity, who have engaged with a diverse number of stakeholders, designed the campaign, delivered the programme and used the insights to shape the development of CDC’s culture and future.


How we listened and how we acted

By working jointly with CDC, we were able to listen and engage with key stakeholders across the region to gather insights and start some solution-based thinking of how best to use civic data to create better public and third sector experiences for the communities effected by them.

With this, our project was made up of 5 key components:

  1. Stakeholder Engagement:

By gathering insights and understanding both the challenges and opportunities for SMEs designing service facing solution – we were able to listen and present findings in a cohesive insights report. These insights fuelled our first engagement event…

  1. ‘What’s your problem?’ the launch event:

By using our previous research, we were able to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders from across the LCR to help find the biggest problems our public services face. From our conversations on the day, we then launched…

  1. ‘What’s your problem?’ webinars:

These events were tailored to our listening and the biggest issues presented in the ‘What’s your problem?’ launch event and included practical and theoretical advice to best support SMEs to better create data led solutions to support public and third sector services.

Partners for these webinars included ORCHA Heath, Liverpool City Region Growth Platform and the LCR Finance Hub.

Through this practical learning, SMEs were able to pitch for…

  1. ‘What’s your problem?’ – the finals (application stage):

SMEs now had the opportunity and knowledge to best pitch an idea that speaks to one of the themes that emerged from the og ‘What’s your problem?’ launch event. Pitching businesses were supported directly by Capacity throughout with the chance to win the final prize of a £60k shared seed fund prize pot – in addition to some invaluable connections to help get their solution and ideas off the ground, which were chosen at the…

  1. ‘What’s your problem? the finals’ – roundtable event:

This finals event brought together an impressive panel of experts to un-pick and critique the strongest SMEs solutions as part of the application. Our panel of experts then chose three businesses/organisations to support with their presented ideas as the first official ‘What’s your problem?’ series came to a close.

The change we helped make

By supporting CDC with their programme, we were able to successfully link-up SMEs and growing organisations with not only public and third sector services, but also with some of the most influential decision makers and commissioners from across the whole of the LCR.

The ‘What’s your problem?’ series has also disrupted the approach to design thinking. Putting problems before the solution, creating fixes that actually fit the problem.

And of course, we were able to support our finalists: Damibu, Koala NW and Spacious Place Life through the programme, who are now continuing to develop their work with the support of CDC and their funding.

What’s next?

Well, we now know there are some pretty big problems that the region still faces, so our work together isn’t quite done yet!

CDC and Capacity will continue to work together on ‘What’s your problem?’ – round 2 later in the year, but in the meantime, we are collaborating on a new exciting problem which will take place right in the heart of our communities.

Want to know more? Why not check out our full insights report below (grab a brew for the nitty gritty detail of the programme!)