Winning Innovate UK Funding for Service Design

21 March 2018, Elizabeth Cochrane

Sometimes you have to think outside the usual funding streams to make strategic projects happen. This is particularly true when trying to solve a systemic problem.

GMV recently assisted The Audience Agency (TAA) in making a successful bid to Innovate UK, the government’s technical strategy bureau, accessing funding earmarked specifically for projects that take a service design approach in meeting business challenges.

The Audience Agency is a leading organisation that captures and shares data to provide insights about the arts and cultural sector in the UK. Although they had all the information and data services their users might need, they had noticed that a lot of the organisations who were supposed to be benefitting just weren’t accessing what was available. TAA were aware that the challenge was around their users’ relationship to data, and realised that they needed to address this through service design.

“We’d been wanting to apply some design-thinking to our development of tools and services for some time,” says COO Cimeon Ellerton. “We have taken some of the approaches, but have not had the depth of expertise or capacity to do it justice.”

On the basis of an existing working relationship, The Audience Agency knew that Golant Media Ventures understood service design, and had proven experience in delivering innovation projects. There is “real technical knowledge too,” says Ellerton, “so we had confidence the outcomes would be realistic.“ Through research and user-centred product development, GMV is now helping TAA to bring a fresh eye to their services.

The novel funding route with Innovate UK allowed a more open-ended and research-based approach, with the chance of prototyping a genuinely new product. “Our funders are mostly from within traditional public arts funding, and they struggle to fund projects where the process dictates the outcome. This is particularly true when thinking about designing support services or tools, where they have a commissioning mindset that is about ensuring a clearly demonstrated value to the end user, using a clearly tested offer.”

There are spin-off benefits, as the research enabled by this funding will continue to deliver value, and “apart from the practical outcomes, this is about improving our understanding of and capacity to apply this approach to our business more generally.”

You can read about another successful application for Innovate UK funding, and the proof of market research it enabled, here.

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