Before becoming a guide to building apps and websites with a social mission the Innovation Labs was a digital mental health project and a £500,000 grant funding programme. It ended in 2014 but you can read the story below.
The Innovation Labs Project and Grants Programme was been four years in the making and represents the united efforts of three major UK funders, eight mental health organisations and many more young people, mental health workers and digital designers.
2008 – 2009
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation launch Right Here, a 5 year multi-million pound project to develop better way to deliver mental health services to 16-25 year olds. Four pilot projects are selected with a fifth, online project to follow pending further research into the best approach.
At the same time Comic Relief, the country’s largest funder of children and young people’s mental health projects in the voluntary sector, becomes increasingly interested in how its funded projects are using digital technology to reach and help their users.
Comic Relief commission Warwick University to produce a report into the Role of Information and Communication Technology in Young People and Mental Health. The UK’s largest funder of digital projects, the Nominet Trust are really interested in Comic Relief’s findings. A natural alliance is formed between the three funders and the Mental Health Foundation.
Comic Relief follows up their report be leading the alliance into a consultation event in April 2011. The alliance is formalised into a partnership and a Project Team is formed. Team members include representatives from:
- Comic Relief
- Nominet Trust
- Paul Hamlyn Foundation
- Right Here (representing the Mental Health Foundation)
- Eleven young people from a range of small and large mental health projects
Working together the Project Team create a tender, calling for delivery partners to work with them to run two innovation labs and an online platform to explore how digital tools can support and improve young people’s mental health.
The Cernis Partnership wins the tender to deliver the Labs and starts working with the Project Team. Sixty two young people, mental health professionals and digital designers are invited via a selection process to attend the Labs. A further forty are invited to join the online Labs Network.
Lab 1 takes place in London attended by 64 people. 126 ideas are produced.
December 2011 – February 2012
The 126 ideas are group into seven categories and incubated within the Labs Network. After a process of selection based on votes and comments seven ideas are selected for further development at Lab 2.
Lab 2 takes place attended by 42 people. The seven ideas are developed intensively resulting in seven video pitches. The Lab ends with an expectation that some of the ideas will be taken forward for further funding in Summer 2012.
May – July 2012
The Labs Project Team meets. They select eight ideas for funding and further development. Five are from Lab 2 and three are from the incubation process. The Cernis Partnership is commissioned to develop functional specifications for each idea. Comic Relief leads the creation of a new grants programme that will fund each idea’s product develo0pment and implementation.
The Innovation Labs Grants Programme is launched.
Grants to develop seven digital products are announced.
Work begins on the seven apps and websites and the Labs blog is relaunched to share both their experiences and the tech for good sector’s best advice on how to build digital products that improve people’s lives.
The seven apps and websites have all completed their builds and launched their products. Their grants have ended. The Labs blog continues and the Learning from the Labs ebook is released.