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Genius York - website launched


12:00am 25th January 2012
(Updated 6:58am 25th January 2012)

City of York Council is aiming to cement York's position as one of the UK's five most innovative cities by launching one of the first community innovation schemes. In partnership with residents, businesses, community groups and innovators everywhere, www.geniusyork.com hopes to make a real difference in solving some of the city's biggest challenges.

Archimedes had his Eureka moment in the bath. But wherever the ideas strike, City of York Council wants to hear about them and work with people to develop them into potential works of GeniUS!

The GeniUS! project wants to inspire everyone in York, including residents, visitors and businesses to get involved in meeting today's and tomorrow's challenges using ingenuity, fresh thinking - and maybe a touch of GeniUS! One of the world's leading companies, Proctor & Gamble, is on record suggesting that over 50 per cent of its new innovations come from sources outside the company. The council wants to emulate this way of working - known as open innovation - and use its expertise, contacts and resources to help bring people's ideas to life - and together make York GeniUS!

This thinking is part of the Council's joint partnership with NESTA - an organisation that promotes innovation in the UK - to bring those ideas to life and so create better, long-lasting and relevant services for the city.

City of York Council has already been shortlisted as one of the final 17 local authorities chosen from 137 entrants to take part in the NESTA Creative Councils Programme, to work with our partners from innovation experts Science City York to attract ideas and demonstrate their potential. If GeniUS! takes off, York could be in line for £250,000 in funding to help take forward innovations and share our success with other cities.

A new website here will go live on 25 January where people can post their ideas and suggestions that could help us solve some of the key challenges that the council and the city are facing:

1. How can underused council assets (such as equipment, property, vehicles, buildings and land) be exploited to benefit businesses, the community and the council?
2. How can footfall and transport be used to generate income and improve environmental sustainability in the city? For example, could we install special paving on York's busiest streets to generate electricity through converting energy from footfall?
3. How can we help older and vulnerable people stay in their homes? How could assisted living, buddy systems, safety improvements and tools help to reduce isolation? Could if mean using innovations such as timers on TVs to help prompt people with memory loss to take their medication?
4. How can City of York Council work with small businesses more effectively and with fewer barriers?

Ideas can be related to new products and technology or simply changes in the way we do things. The four challenges will be posted one a week for four weeks onlineand will stay open for a three week period. Each will contain background to the challenge faced to aid and inform potentially innovative ideas.

The most workable and productive ideas will be identified by a panel of experts in relevant fields. The originators will be invited to workshops to work with experts, council officers and members of the public who might be affected by it. Once a plan to develop the idea has been agreed by these partners, the council has committed to making it happen.

So, whatever the idea and wherever the inspiration strikes, the council wants to hear it. The simplest ideas - whether they can improve health services, save money, exploit technology, boost tourism or support residents - can sometimes transform lives.

Cllr James Alexander, Labour leader of City of York Council said:

"City of York Council is fully committed to improving its methods to tackle present and future challenges at an operational and strategic level. We wish to improve communication within and outside the organisation to help identify and solve problems as they arise, to make us more responsive and to use contemporary and future technologies in all areas of the council."

Kersten England, chief executive of City of York Council said:

"Open innovation has not yet been applied seriously to local authorities in the UK, and we want to demonstrate that we can collaborate with the private sector to increase our innovation capacity to make our city a better place to live, visit and work. We want to explore the potential for this process and to share the learning with other local authorities."

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