Three local councils of Reading Borough Council, Merthyr Tydfil & Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Councils (joint bid), and Luton Borough Council were today awarded a share of a quarter of a million pounds worth of grant funding after being named as recipients of the Future Fund. The initiative is unique within the local government community and has been developed, organised and run by O2. It is designed to help forward thinking local authority ICT teams leverage digital innovation and drive improvements and positive change in engaging their staff, citizens and communities.
The three winning local authorities were selected from 40 local councils that submitted applications after the launch of the fund in April this year. Following an initial short listing process, the ideas from Reading Borough Council, Merthyr Tydfil & Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Councils (joint bid), and Luton Borough Council stood out amongst the six finalists who were invited to pitch to panel of experts from O2, Local Government Association, Local Government Chronicle and New Local Government Network at O2’s Slough head office on 24th July.
Each of the winning teams will benefit from a package which combines expert O2 consultancy with access to bespoke O2 services and technology designed to help them turn their project ideas into a practical reality. The panel of judges were unanimous in their final award, as the three winning bids clearly addressed the judging criteria and their ideas have the potential to inspire the wider local government community.
Reading Borough Council were awarded the top prize of £125,000 for their ‘from handset to mindset’ project, which demonstrated a clear way to help address the Not in Education, Employment of Training (NEETs) issue across West Berkshire.
Merthyr Tydfil and Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Councils took the second prize of £75,000 with their joint bid to develop an ‘e-community’ project designed to enhance their local authorities understanding of SMEs in a bid to encourage local economic growth.
Luton Borough Council picked up the £50,000 award with their Access Luton project, which is designed to redefine the council’s services to and relationships with their customers.
Neil Prior, Head of Local Government Futures Forum at O2, said: “We’ve been truly amazed and delighted by the response and sheer breadth of innovation, from projects which focus on fostering economic growth by creating new ways to connect with local businesses, to bids which explore ways of leveraging digital technology to engage with young people on their terms.”
He continued: “Judging by the calibre of entries we received, what’s clear is that ICT teams can play a big role in helping local authorities create efficiencies but also and perhaps most importantly deliver true innovation in their business and local communities. At O2, we believe that the right application of technology has the potential to drive real change and through the Future Fund we are starting to see a glimpse of what’s possible when imagination and passion combine with the right kind of third-party support and expertise. Following a rigorous bidding process, we now look forward to truly helping the winning councils bring their ideas to life, and sharing the findings with the wider local government community.”