Or rather that should be ‘the winners are...’. For in a shock twist worthy of GRR Martin, the expert panel of judges we had convened to pick the winning team for our TechConnect scheme were so impressed by the quality of the pitches that they decided to award first prize to two teams.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let us rewind. For the uninitiated who may have missed this article in Computer Weekly, TechConnect is an initiative designed to promote government and industry collaboration. The programme, sponsored by Jacky Wright (CDIO, HMRC) and the Government Digital Service, brought together 38 early professionals, half from the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Fast Stream and half from tech companies. The delegates were divided seven into cohorts, and over the 12-week programme they worked to identify and design digital solutions for public sector challenges.
Over the course of the 12 weeks the cohorts visited range of tech companies, large and small, to see live demos of innovation happening in the private sector that could be used to inform their solutions. Each cohort was allocated two mentors, one from Government and one from industry, to provide advice and guidance as the teams devised their problem statements and developed their solutions.
And the culmination of the programme a Finale Day, which convened all the participants, and saw each cohort pitch their solution to a panel of judges. The judging panel consisted of: Jacky Wright, the CDIO of HMRC (without whose sponsorship this would not have been possible); Oliver Lewis, Deputy Director for DDaT at the Government Digital Service; Penny Williams, the Vice Chair of techUK’s Public Services Board; and Zoe Cunningham, techUK Deputy President and Board Lead for Building the Smarter State).
The standard of the pitches was staggeringly high, but there could only be one winner. Or in this case, as we’ve already covered, two. Two teams came up with such innovative solutions, and presented so well, that the judges could not pick between them and awarded them both the top prize. Team Tomlinson, who devised a secure citizen-government transaction system, and Independence Pay, who produced a demo for online PIP application processing.
Alongside the prestige that comes with winning the first ever TechConnect contest, as part of their prize the victorious cohorts will soon be pitching their solutions to civil servants at the highest level.
Congratulations to the winners, and to all who took part! This year was a pilot for the scheme, and we shall be learning and iterating as we look to roll out the initiative to more delegates next year. So stay tuned!