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Coram Innovation Incubator

A National Catalyst for Radical Innovation in Children’s Social Care


Introducing the Coram Innovation Incubator

In early 2021, in collaboration with ten local authorities – along with EY, Microsoft and PA Consulting – Coram launched the Coram Innovation Incubator (CII), a specialist vehicle for children’s services providers to generate, test and scale innovative solutions to shared challenges facing the children’s social care sector. Leveraging a collective drive to support vulnerable children and young people at a time of great need, the CII allows motivated children’s services professionals from across the public, private and third sector to collaborate with – and work as entrepreneurs alongside – Coram and our private sector experts to develop new approaches through the pursuit and exploitation of new products, processes and practice.

A call for new solutions

The CII was launched in a response to the significant disruption of life as we know it brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, which compounded what was already a picture of increasing complexity and demand.

Between December 2020 and January 2021, Coram-i carried out the first National Survey of Children’s Services Providers. The survey revealed that, although children’s services recognised the need to embrace new technology and innovative ways of working, they lacked the resources to commit to the kinds of changes required to make the greatest difference. A mere 39% of the organisations surveyed were able to operate at the necessary level of radical innovation. To see the full insight report from the survey, please click here.

In response to our second innovation survey in 2022, we sought to demonstrate that tangible change for children and families is possible in our report Art of the Possible in Children’s Services: A Coram Manifesto. You can read this report here.

The CII seeks to provide the platform to unlock these opportunities to galvanise the innovation that delivers change for children, young people, families and those working in the sector.

In 2024, the sector faces ongoing challenges and the call to innovate grows louder, urging us to forge new paths and pioneer change. As we navigate the lingering repercussions of the pandemic, grapple with ongoing financial challenges in the sector, and try to turnaround the lack of capacity to meet the needs of children, the need for bold, inventive solutions becomes more pressing than ever before.

How the CII works

The CII brings together the insights of local authority and charity sector partners, Coram’s highly experienced multi-disciplinary team and private sector expertise to develop and pilot innovative solutions to the most important challenges facing children’s services as defined by the providers of those services. The CII creates a space for the sharing of ideas and issues from which projects, partnerships and, ultimately, products or services will emerge. It is designed to enable those across the organisation from the top down to be involved in the development – or incubation – of an innovation project.


Coram Innovation Incubator graphic

The CII operates on a 12-month cycle of Innovation Labs, Learning Sets and webinars, Innovation Surveys and regular reporting on good practice. Partner organisations will also receive dedicated support from a CII Innovation Business Partner. For more information on these components, click here.

The CII Offer for 2023/24

Learning Sets Quarterly sessions for members with a presentation from two speakers who have developed innovation in the sector, with a focus on practice, implementation, and sharing their experiences and challenges.
Webinars Quarterly sessions with a focus on new and exciting projects led by a speaker working in the sector or beyond. These sessions focus on ideas, inspiration and new thinking.
The Collective The Collective is our annual report collating best practice from across the sector, sharing innovations and projects, which considers both the UK and international context. You can find previous versions of the Collective here
Support to develop our core projects These have focused on using technology to improve ways of working, developing a child-focused approach to case recording, supporting workforce recruitment and retention through new models of flexible working, wellbeing and culture change, tackling placement sufficiency and improving the way local authorities deliver SEND support.
The Innovation Inset

A five-session course based around a design thinking approach, to support you to develop your own innovation project within your organisation. We will cover auditing, immersion, problem definition, ideation, prototyping and implementation, as well as evidencing your work. Supported by a specialist external coach, the Inset is a collaborative and supportive space, with a special focus on boosting the confidence and skills of our partners. You can find a case study which describes Bromley’s experience of the Inset here.


The Practice Forum A monthly online call for practitioners and those close to frontline practice, to share experiences. Each month will be led by one of our local authority partners with a focus on a particular practice issue, and time for discussion, reflection, and sharing practice
Coffee Dates You will be matched every quarter with someone from another partner organisation to arrange an informal, one-to-one call to share your current challenges, learn about what is happening in other parts of the UK, and build organic links with likeminded colleagues across the country.
Consultation In addition to the above, as a full member of the Incubator you will be able to access three consultancy days over the course of the year, for one-to-one support and advice. This offer is broad to allow you to make the best use of this time according to the priorities of your organisation.
The Drop-In Our regular monthly slot for you to meet with the Incubator team at Coram to share what you’re working on, ask questions, and discuss current issues in the sector.
Bid-writing and Funding applications We are happy to support you with bid-writing and funding applications for projects that are being developed as part of your work in the Incubator, building on the expertise and relationships that Coram has in this area.
 Additional Opportunities We also offer additional ad-hoc opportunities to contribute to sector-wide policy discussions, including hosting roundtables with senior leaders and change makers.

CII Programmes run from April-April. Our Prospectus for 2024/25 provides more information about our offer and provides details on our range of membership options. You can read it here.

Coming soon! In early 2024, we’ll be launching the Coram Innovation Playbook.  Acting as an accessible and dynamic knowledge-sharing hub, the Coram Innovation Playbook seeks to showcase the range of new projects, initiatives and innovations from across the sector, and those in adjacent sectors.

Our Private Sector Supporters











Recognising the need to co-develop solutions with know-how and resources from the private sector, Coram is proud to be supported by EY, Microsoft and PA Consulting. Each organisation is committed to contributing their insight and expertise to support the sector to innovate to improve the lives of children and young people. The CII will seek out and secure further supporters as needed to deliver on its programme of innovation, bringing the very best of the private sector to bear on the challenges for children.

Our Partners

Our current members are London Borough of Bromley, London of Havering, Hertfordshire County Council, North Yorkshire County Council, London Borough of Redbridge, Grosvenor Hart Homes and Barnardo’s.

We firmly believe that a diverse coalition of passionate minds and organisations fosters inspiration and fuels the momentum needed for transformative change. Together, we will realise a future where every child thrives and collaborative strides redefine the landscape of children’s social care and generate the momentum needed for change.

Coram is looking for a further partners to join the CII from a range of sectors!

Get in touch to find out more about becoming a CII partner, by emailing  [email protected]