Digital DNA pitch success for Techies in Residence

25 June 2018

Six participants from the Techies in Residence social innovation programme celebrated success last week after securing over £85,000 in funding from a panel of experts at Digital DNA. The programme, which had over thirty initial applicants, will provide £85,000 in support to Mencap NI, Children’s Law Centre, Shelter NI, uHub, Housing Rights NI and Parenting NI, all of whom will take forward delivering on their respective social innovation projects.

The programme supported by Building Change Trust brings together social challenges from charities and social enterprises with digital and technology professionals to produce innovative digital products and services over up to twelve weeks.   This the third year the programme has been run by Innovate-NI with support from Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.

This morning ten VCSE organisations pitched for additional funding, having started the process in early 2018 and received support and mentoring at various milestones.  Like the Trust’s ‘Social Innovation Skills’ programme, charities and techies go through a creative problem-solving process, where the needs of the end user are the focus, rather than what the charity or the techie thinks they might be.

Successful projects include a one stop online resource developed by uHub which will enable those with mental health difficulties to self-support and access services and a Housing Rights NI resource to help make it easier for tenants to navigate the private rental sector.  Funding was also awarded to Mencap NI who will harness virtual reality to enable people with learning difficulties to be engaged with society, and Parenting NI who want to reach as many parents as possible and make them aware of the help and support available to them through a new app. In addition, Shelter NI have secured funding to deliver a trusted trader scheme for vulnerable housing tenants, and the final recipient the Children’s Law Centre will create an anonymous chat bot to provide information to young people on their legal rights.

Reflecting on the Techies in Residence programme and the funding announcement, Paul Braithwaite, Programme Leader at Building Change Trust said, 

“We’ve been so impressed by the quality of the pitches today, it was difficult to make a decision from the ten shortlisted.  Those who have been successful demonstrated that their new solution could have multiple applications beyond the immediate problem for which it was developed. This is particularly important in the resource constrained environment of the VCSE sector.” 

Congratulating the winners, Clare McGee from Innovate-NI added;

“This is our third year running the Techies in Residence programme.  We are delighted that so many organisations want to make real progress in addressing these social challenges.  This seed fund will support the final six to continue their journey and reflects the appetite for social innovation within the VCSE sector.”