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The 2nd Coram Innovation Incubator Annual Innovation Report


April 4, 2022

The Coram Innovation Incubator (CII) today released its second annual innovation report “The Art of the Possible in Children’s Services: A Coram Manifesto”.

The report is based on the national innovation survey, distributed to all children’s services providers at the end of 2021, which sought to assess where agencies are finding it possible to achieve positive change and how the CII can facilitate the innovations which can transform the lives of children and young people.

The report’s key findings are:

· The key barriers to innovation in children’s services relate to organisational workforce issues, growing demand and complexity, and the challenges involved in successfully embedding innovation so it is sustainable;
· There have been specific improvements in the therapeutic support services are able to offer to children, young people and families as well as better methods of early intervention;
· Collaboration, capacity and having an innovative organisational culture and a willingness to take risk are critical to enabling change and innovation;
· Children’s services are better able to implement and adapt models which have been developed in other organisations;
· Children’s services providers acknowledge the value of capitalising on the potential of technology to assist service delivery, with 64% of those surveyed report use of new technology in their service.

The survey shows that innovation in children’s services is primarily constrained by a lack of capacity, capability and the increasingly complex demands they face. The Coram Innovation Incubator is driven by the idea of the Art of the Possible: to make the most of and galvanise the capacity, expertise and resource from across the public, private and third sectors” says Dr Carol Homden, CEO of Coram.

The full report is available here.


On the basis of these findings, the Coram Innovation Incubator, Coram-i’s dedicated platform working to stimulate innovation in children’s services, identifies a route map for change:

· The CII will continue to drive cross-sectoral knowledge sharing to achieve maximum benefit for children;
· It will convene its members with experts from across and beyond the sector to develop and test an initiative to support workforce development and address challenges around staff capacity, recruitment and retention;
· It will continue to operate and develop its existing innovation steams focused on placement sufficiency, adolescent mental health and adolescent safeguarding, working with local authority members and expert partners to share, design and develop innovative solutions;
· The CII will invite its partners to join the Coram Innovation Inset, a development programme to enable practitioners to become innovation leaders in their organisation, and provide them with the structures to test pilot projects in practice and evaluate their impact;
· Acknowledging specific concerns around implementing new technologies, especially around security, ethics and regulations around data sharing, the CII will work with its partners to establish shared frameworks and principles so they can apply the promise of technology to enhance their practice.

In its second year, the Coram Innovation Incubator is delighted to be joined by five new members from the London Borough of Harrow, Gloucestershire County Council, Hampshire County Council, Together for Children Sunderland and City of London Corporation. We will also continue to work with our founder members, as well as our three private sector partners, Microsoft, EY and PA Consulting.

On joining the CII, Peter Tolley, Director of Children’s Social Care from the London Borough of Harrow, said: “There are a number of significant challenges for children services and these are best met through collaboration, utilising the skills, knowledge and experiences of a range of professionals and agencies across all sectors. Harrow has a long standing relationship with Coram through our adoption services and welcomes the opportunity to develop this relationship as we join others to promote innovation across children services.”

Chris Spencer, Director of Children’s Services at Gloucestershire County Council said “In an ever increasingly challenging and unpredictable environment children’s services must remain agile and think the unthinkable. We must be creative, innovative and research focused if we are to serve our children well. Gloucestershire are proud to be part of this group of forward thinking professionals who not only seek to scan the horizon for new ideas but to change it.”

Ian Smart, Assistant Director of Transformation at Hampshire County Council said “Hampshire actively plans for, and enables a culture of innovation and intrapreneurship, in a relentless and continual pursuit of improvement. The Coram Innovation Incubator will provide us with a very useful forum in which to think about, develop and test new ideas alongside like-minded organisations and people.”

Kevin Brown, Strategic Programme Manager at Together for Children Sunderland, said “Together for Children is dedicated to continuing to improve services for the children and young people of Sunderland. By becoming a member of the Coram Innovation Incubator we feel this is exactly what we can continue to do. Through having collaborative discussions alongside public and private sector partners and focusing upon our shared challenges, we will push ourselves to look for innovative practice to overcome these challenges and improve the services that we provide. We are excited to get going!”

Kevin Yong, Managing Director of Coram-i, said “We are delighted to be evolving the CII model, working with new local authorities from across the country, building on our previous successes, and responding to the challenges the sector is experiencing in embedding innovation in practice. Through our unique cross-sector alliance of innovative local authorities and expert colleagues from the private sector, the CII seeks to develop the vital foundations to promote a culture of intrapreneurship in children’s services so we can facilitate the radical innovations the sector requires to meet the growing needs of vulnerable children and young people.”

The CII invites any colleagues interested in promoting innovation in children’s services to get in touch via email

You can find more information about the CII here.


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    Chris Burton

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