Techies in Residence boosts #TechForGood

Techies in Residence boosts #TechForGood

25 January 2017

As we gear up for a new round of Techies in Residence, we thought it would be good to have a look back at the original project.

The pilot project for Techies in Residence proved the case that the Third sector and tech experts could join forces to harness the power of digital technology to make big changes to social problems.

This innovative programme paired up organisations seeking to further their aims using the latest digital technology with digital experts. It brought together smart, talented people from the VCSE sector with digital specialists in order to tackle unique problems by using innovative solutions and create real social impact.

Paul Braithwaite, who heads up the Trust’s work in Social Innovation and who oversaw the Techies in Residence programme, said: “Many people in the Third sector don’t realise the potential of technology to directly contribute to their social impact. They do know lots about social problems though and have very deep links to communities. Meanwhile we have a rapidly growing, passionate and energetic tech sector that knows all about technology and are keen to be involved in solving problems of all descriptions. Putting the two together and seeing what innovation would result was the idea behind Techies in Residence".

“It’s not about one group ‘teaching’ the other how it’s done – it’s about collaborating and mutual learning around shared challenges. The Digital Social Innovation or Tech for Good movement is growing hugely across Europe and internationally – Northern Ireland is behind the curve and needs to catch up, we’re trying to help. Key to all of this is the idea that digital innovation - and innovation in general- should no longer be thought of only as a way of growing the economy but something than can help us deal with a whole range of societal challenges and increase wellbeing across the board,” he added.

Many of the partnerships formed in the pilot project were very successful. Some examples of this work include:

  • NOW Group worked with Ciaran Murray Owner of Creative Metrics to develop a digital prototype of its JAM (Just a Minute) card with additional features that will provide essential information to the organisation. NOW Group were awarded £50,000 in July from Big Lottery Fund to further develop the JAM Card concept. 
  • AWARE which works exclusively for people with depression and bipolar disorder, was paired with David Shawe from Invisible Building to create a digital mood board. 
  • TAMHI, a Belfast based mental health awareness charity, worked with techie Kyle Gawley, CEO of Belfast based ticketing start up – Get Invited. Together they developed a prototype model that tracks individual engagement with the community and can compare results before and after involvement with sports activity in order to really measure the impact of their work. 

Techies in Residence aimed to kick-start digital social innovation in Northern Ireland and showcase what can be achieved by combining the two sectors, developing long standing partnerships between the tech community and VCSE organisations.

The second Techies in Residence programme was launched in October at the Unusual Suspect Festival and new pairings of techies and organisations will be announced soon.

“With this ambitious project, we hope to stimulate social innovation and cross-sectoral collaboration by connecting those working on innovative solutions to social challenges with the technical skillsets they need to design, test and deliver,” Paul Braithwaite added.

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