In our 2018 report ‘Our Smart Region’, we recommended that the Cardiff Capital Region develop a challenge fund to engage a wider range of partners in developing solutions to long-standing problems, including the increasing demand for already strained public services, significant regional inequalities and ageing infrastructure.
We are therefore pleased that the CCR Regional Cabinet has approved a £10m Challenge Fund targeting three core challenges: decarbonisation, health and well-being, and enhancing communities.
The commitment of £10m goes beyond our recommendation of investing 1% of the total investment fund (£495m), demonstrating a strong level of commitment from the CCR Regional Cabinet.
Challenge funding offers an opportunity to tap into the assets and capabilities of businesses and public sector organisations in collaboration, but also to engage citizens and communities.
We have high expectations as we look forward to seeing the upcoming work of developing the challenges and the collaborative mechanisms that are developed through this work, and particularly how citizens can feed in to the challenges.
This fund represents a significant learning opportunity for Wales. It will therefore be essential that the CCR and Cardiff University develop evaluation and reporting tools that capture not only the outcomes but also the wider lessons about how to innovate and collaborate, so that other public bodies around the nation can develop their own approaches to addressing these complex challenges.
The possibilities for capturing the economic benefits of activities that boost social value is a key theme for our own ongoing work on the Foundational Economy led by Dr Jack Watkins.
This investment by CCR further embeds that approach in Wales, and we want to see this theme being explored by parties in the run-up to the Senedd elections in May 2021.