Cohort: Alpha

Organisation: Vale of Glamorgan Council

1. What was the overarching challenge?

Local authorities spend millions of pounds every year procuring goods and services. However, much of this spend is made outside of the local authority and outside of Wales. This means that very little public money gets recirculated locally and a significant portion of public spending goes to large multi-national companies with little benefit to the local or Welsh economy.

The Welsh Government wants to reverse this trend and encourage more local public procurement to maximise the impact of public spending by supporting local businesses and the foundational economy. However, to do this effectively, local authorities need accurate data about the local businesses which could tender for contracts, and often local businesses aren’t aware of the type of contracts local authorities are tendering for. This project therefore sought to address part of this issue by exploring how to encourage more local public procurement and build local supplier resilience across the Cardiff Capital Region.

2. Which aspects of the challenge were addressed in the experiment (the research question/s)?

Can a platform be developed to address the lack of market intelligence around local suppliers for local authorities and public sector providers?

If this platform can be created the project would then explore the ease of bidding and access for local suppliers in the tendering process.

3. What was done to address the challenge?

Inspired by the learning from the procurement and data labs, the associate wanted to use data more effectively to help support the foundational economy through data enabled procurement. They worked with stakeholders within their authority and across the public sector to see what business data already exists and if there was any platform that could be used to access it.

Their research showed that the data in this area was patchy and that different stakeholders held different levels of data with no uniform way of collecting local business intelligence. The associate also found that no platform currently existed to enable easy data access to support the public sector in achieving more local business procurement.

Through their conversations with other local authorities, the Welsh Local Government Association and Welsh Government, it was clear that this was an area requiring innovation, and that if such a platform could be created it would be of use to a variety of public sector organisations across the CCR who were all trying to maximise their local spend. The associate therefore submitted a Challenge Fund application to create a platform to collate and analyse the correct data to help address this issue.

Whilst there was interest from several other authorities in partnering on the Challenge Fund project, it was not possible to get a formal written agreement in time of the funding bid submission.

4. Which aspects of Infuse were most helpful in addressing the challenge?

The associate used stakeholder mapping and told a data story to provide compelling evidence as to why this was such a big issue in the Vale of Glamorgan and across the Cardiff Capital Region. They also contacted guest speakers from the procurement lab to gain market intelligence about the challenge being addressed.

The associate was supported by the Infuse Team throughout the development of the application through identifying existing datasets, liaising with innovators in this space, and with support and feedback in the development of the Challenge Fund application.

5. What were the main lessons from collaborative working?

While other organisations may see the benefit of a particular project or proposal and want to get involved, partnership working takes time to build relationships and it can be difficult to establish a formal agreement with a short deadline for a funding bid. It is therefore vital to begin conversations with potential partners as early in the process as possible.

6. Key findings

The learning from Infuse can result in different ways to think about a particular problem/ challenge.

External collaboration takes time and it can be difficult to get formal agreements in place when meeting tight deadlines.

The Challenge Fund approach gives the opportunity to procure innovative solutions to problems that do not currently have a solution.

7. Next steps

The application has now been submitted and, if successful, the associate is hoping to collaborate with other local authorities in the CCR to make this a region-wide data solution. This will make it easier for local businesses to tender across the different regions and give local authorities the intelligence they need to help support the foundational economy in tendering for local authority business.