SBRI | NI: Solving wicked problems for the public sector

Do you face an issue that you think could be solved using technology, but cannot find the right product? That could be because there is not anything currently on the market that is suitable. If so, the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) could be just what you are looking for.

SBRI provides the public sector with innovative solutions to problems that will drive improvement, and allows suppliers to develop products and services working collaboratively with the public sector, enabling them to develop new skills, expertise, and markets. Launched in Northern Ireland in 2009, the programme supports diverse projects across the public sector.

The process is straightforward. Once you have identified exactly what the challenge is and established that there is nothing suitable currently on the market, you can apply for SBRI funding. They will then run an open competition for ideas, with the best three or four funded to develop a proof of concept. Successful ideas can then be developed in the next funding phase to create a solution which is tailored to your organisation’s needs and can be procured. This model minimises risk to both you and the supplier.

Any public sector organisation (department, arm’s-length body, local authority) can apply for SBRI funding. Projects can be funded where there is a demonstrable need for an innovative solution or product, and where there is no suitable product or solution already available on the market.

We have a budget of around £3 million per year and we typically fund around 20 projects each year.

Over the years we have funded projects such as:

  • Education Authority projects to improve support and outcomes for children with special educational needs, and to measure carbon emissions produced by their network of buildings and vehicles;
  • a CCEA project to develop intelligent crowd sourcing of questions for post primary examination and assessment;
  • Department of Health projects addressing early identification and intervention for the prodromal or pre-psychotic phase of schizophrenia and optimising the provision of speech and language therapy to meet NICE guidelines following a stroke; and
  • a Forensic Science NI project to rapidly visualise and identify bodily fluids on a range of substrates within a forensic science environment.

SBRIs are all about solving the wicked problems faced by the public sector. If you need a solution to an issue your organisation is facing and cannot find a solution to it on the market, why not get in touch?

Our expert team is highly experienced in dealing with all aspects of SBRIs and can provide you with the advice you need.

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