Information Management In Public Services

Wayra start-ups bid to increase Whitehall traction

David Bicknell Published 14 September 2015

Telefonica's fledglings make their public sector pitch

Localistico, Policy in Practice, Proversity, RotaGeek, Squirrell, Qudini, and Basestone.

You may not have heard of any of these companies, but if they get their way, their solutions could become embedded in parts of the public sector.

All of them are start-ups and they are part of O2's digital start-up accelerator Wayra . These companies - and several others- recently gathered to pitch what they could do for would-be users in the public sector.

Each of them did a three minute elevator pitch to an invited audience that included representatives from government, industry and the wider public sector to take an in depth look at the digital startup revolution. It comprised users and vendors who themselves might be keen to utilise the start-ups' digital innovation in their own pitches for public sector.

Earlier a panel that comprising Home Office chief technology officer Sarah Wilkinson, FutureGov chief executive Dominic Campbell, and Chris McCullough, co-founder of RotaGeek discussed the landscape for start-ups in meeting public sector needs.

Discussing opportunities for start-ups in the Home Office, Wilkinson said she was a "big fan" of Wayra, and encouraged start-ups to engage with the department. She added that the Home Office's sourcing approach is changing, having been tied into previous relationships and not been able to use solutions such as open source.

"The speed in government is usually very slow," she said. "There is a tight focus on policy and there can be a risk-averse approach. The philosophy is challenging and so is the sourcing approach. We want to move more to a world of open standards, open systems and open source.

"The sourcing approach is changing. New rules allow people to engage smaller companies," she added.

Wilkinson also highlighted the importance of two major policy programmes within the Home Office: the National Police Data Programme, and the Emergency Service Network procurement (ESN).

Encouraged to offer succinct advice to start-ups on steps they can take to acquire government business, the panel suggested the following:

- Go to speak to people who know problems in government really well
- Make sure your product solves a buyer's problems
- Don't be put off by the idea that there is no money around
- Show what you have done in the private sector
- Make sure you have that case study that shows something works
- If you can find an advocate, it gives you a 'route in' to get a case study produced
- Consider quoting a buying organisation - such as a council - less than £10,000 for a solution. For some councils, for a low-value procedure that is normally under £10,000, only one written quote must be obtained. Rules, however, differ by buying organisation.


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