Transformation of the UK Research and Development funding service

Developing a game-changing grant application service

Overview

Challenge

Innovate UK exists to drive science and technology innovations that enhance the UK economy through the provision of grants and funding. Historically, their manual application process presented many challenges:

- Disconnected processes and multiple legacy IT systems
- Inconsistent data and no central reporting
- Manual administration tasks prone to errors
- Complex, hard to understand user journeys and content

They appointed WORTH to develop their Innovation Funding Service - a customer-focused digital solution that replaced all non-digital internal and external channels and services and was built inline with the Government Digital Service (GDS) standards.

“By streamlining the process for innovators, and for us internally, we are able to accelerate the time to market for new products and drive greater wealth and job creation.”

Anne Dixon ✝, Chief Operating Officer, Innovate UK

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The approach

User-focused design - As a public facing service it was vital to have a strong focus on why the service was needed. From the start, Innovate UK were clear about their goals, which were centred around their customers and the user benefits, so we needed to design and build with a clear focus on the user experience. We held a series of discovery workshops where thousands of end-users were interviewed, and by using an entirely UX-based bespoke design, we created an intuitive, user-friendly digital service.

Teamwork at its best - Our approach is always a “one-team” ethos working closely in blended teams alongside our clients. This process included a lean approach to discovery and development of the minimal viable product; "three amigos" to review and refine specifications; reviews to minimise and resolve technical debt; continuous improvement through retrospectives; continuous user involvement and user testing, informing iterative development of the product.

Using the right technology - Building on open standards, common platforms and open source codes, we delivered a system that is capable of rapid iteration and improvement. The Innovation Funding Service is consistent with the user experience of other GOV.UK digital initiatives, including design patterns and style guide. By putting Javascript on G-Hubs, the service can be shared across the Government.

Results

Scaling successfully and saving operational costs - The new service enabled UKRI to scale from £500m to £2.5Bn funding without increasing headcount and meant 8 x savings on operational costs.

Enhancing collaboration via an online platform - Provides a transparent, easy-to-understand service to businesses and research organisations by strengthening the means by which Innovate UK connects business with knowledge, partners and opportunities.

Efficiently dispersing innovation funding - Facilitates the investment of over £500 million per year of innovation funding much more quickly and efficiently by automating the process, reducing the risk of manual errors, and reducing processing time.