1. What is the Circular Economy?
The circular economy is a system in which resources such as materials and equipment are used, reused and repurposed as effectively as possible, and for as long as possible. In our case, we want the public sector in the Cardiff Capital and Swansea Bay regions to work effectively together to rethink how their resources are managed, shared in new, and existing projects and services so that they can maximise the financial, environmental and social benefits within the organisation. This might be through:
- Procurement of products that are refurbished, remanufactured or contain recycled materials and/or products designed for long life, reuse and repair
- Procurement of services that provide access to products (for example, renting or leasing furniture or medical equipment)
- Implementing processes that allow the effective sharing of resources such as equipment and staff between different public sector organisations
- Building networks that allow the repurposing and reuse of public sector resources such as medical aids, IT or furniture in other organisations
- Building partnerships that turn unavoidable public sector waste into resources for another industry, for example, reprocessing of single-use PVC medical devices into new products such as tree ties
- Designing policies that ensure resource-efficient delivery of public services (for example, guidance on retrofitting of social housing or use of renewable energy for public transport)
There are many other potential circular economy opportunities and we are excited to see what your ideas are!
2. What is the Circular Economy Innovation Communities project?
Circular Economy Innovation Communities (CEIC) is a fully funded project led by practitioners with many years of collective experience that provides public sector organisations in the Cardiff Capital and Swansea Bay regions with the knowledge, skills, experience and ideal environment to collaboratively identify and solve common challenges. Our approach encourages participants to view the challenges through a circular economy lens – how can we implement solutions that are resource-efficient, resilient and low-carbon by design? The project comprises 14 programmes, each run over 10 months that include a blend of virtual and in-person workshops, site visits, action learning and expert support activities. There will be seven held in Swansea University and seven in Cardiff Metropolitan University, which will run through until 2023.
3. What is an Innovation Community?
Our Innovation Communities are groups of like-minded people (Communities of Practice) from within the Welsh public sector who share common challenges and are motivated to work collaboratively to solve them.
4. What are the benefits of adopting circular economy approaches in public sector organisations?
Adopting a circular economy approach can help the public sector to achieve financial, environmental, social benefits and their statutory obligations to reduce its carbon footprint. Adopting a CE approach increases the ability of the organisation to implement best practices, resulting in reduced environmental impact and costs reduction. It encourages public service organisations to look at the way they reuse, remanufacture and repurpose items that would normally end in landfill sites. It can also contribute towards the decarbonisation of the public sector and provide evidence of how an organisation is meeting the goals of the “Wellbeing of Future Generation Act.”
The programme will create collaborative innovation communities of practice (networks) across multiple public service organisations in the South Wales region that facilitate and promote regional working and enable organisations to solve their existing problems. It will enhance innovation knowledge and skills that can drive productivity and enhance individual and organizational innovation capability.
As our project progresses we will be adding more case studies that demonstrate this in practice.
5. Can non-public sector bodies take part?
The programme is primarily for public sector organisations. Although, we are able to accommodate a small number of third sector organisations within each cohort, based on their value to the problems already being addressed by the cohort.
6. Is there a cost for this programme? / How is the programme funded?
There is no cost to the participant or their organisation. The programme is fully funded by the Welsh Government and the European Social fund. The programme requires participants to provide in-kind (time) match funding with the support of their organisation in the form of evidence of time spent on the programme. [RG11] Each hour participants spend working on the programme, either through attendance on workshops or development activities within their organisation, is used as evidence. If a participant commits 2 days for each of the 10 months (10% of their contracted hours), the value of these hours is calculated based on salary and used as evidence of Match Funding.
7. Do I have to be a leader or a senior manager to take part?
CEIC is aimed primarily at leaders and managers in public sector entities within the Cardiff Capital and Swansea Bay regions. Involving leaders and managers gives the cohort the best chance of getting their innovations implemented within the organisations. However, we know that leaders and managers have many constraints on their time – and that innovation communities work best when they include enthusiastic, motivated and passionate people. For this reason, if you think you have something to bring to CEIC, do get in touch with us! All we ask is that your manager formally supports your involvement in the programme.
8. Do I have to be employed full-time in the public sector to participate?
No – although you should be aware that CEIC is a ten-month programme including a series of scheduled activities that in some cases run over multiple days. It will also involve scheduled site visits. As part of the programme, you will need time when you are back in your organisation to trial and implement changes. We estimate the time commitment to be 2 days a month as a minimum and we ask that your organisation evidence this with a secondment letter allowing you to spend 10% of your time on the programme for 10 months.
Talk to us to get more information on the programme of activities and then talk it through with your manager.
9. What will I do on CEIC?
Take part in an innovation community of practice that is a series of workshops, site visits, action learning, peer learning and expert support activities. [RG12] During this period of restricted in-person contact, the programme may be delivered through a blend of virtual and in-person activities in line with government guidelines. CEIC employs a design thinking process; initially it will comprise of a two-day ‘experiential learning event’ that introduces design-thinking concepts and explores the circular economy in more detail. Here you will start to form your innovation community.
Every month, a workshop will focus on a different aspect of the design thinking process:
- Empathy - in which you explore the different stakeholders in a problem and engage with them to gather and reconcile multiple perspectives on the problem.
- Definition - in which you test your initial assumptions against the stakeholder viewpoints and reframe the problem from the user perspective.
- Ideation - in which you co-create multiple ways of addressing the problem, all incorporating circular economy thinking, then collectively choose the most promising
- Prototyping - in which you build quick physical and mental models of your proposed innovations.
- Testing - when you engage with your stakeholders to test and co-develop ideas ‘on-site’ and learn to embrace success or failure.
- Assessment - this involves exploring how well your proposed solution is achieving your end objectives/goals.
- Iteration - in which you get brave about throwing away concepts, going back to the drawing board and introducing new ideas at different points in the process.
The workshops are supported by ‘good practice’ visits to innovative organisations where you will learn how they came to find what works and exchange programmes between CEIC partners to give you an insight into how things operate in their organisation.
At the end of each workshop, you will be set preparation tasks for the next one, which you will undertake with other people within your cohort as an ‘action learning set’.
10. How much time do I have to commit to CEIC?
CEIC runs over ten months. Each month, you will need to set aside one day for the workshop and one day for implementation activities, related to developing the new service solution and the associated research activities, within your organisation.
11. What professional development opportunities are there for me in CEIC?
Participants can submit additional assessment coursework to obtain a single Masters Level (level 7) module. This module would enable participants to enter a Masters programme at Swansea or Cardiff Metropolitan Universities. This will be carried out in addition to the CEIC programme. Please ask us for more details.
12. When will the programme run?
The first cohort will start in the first quarter of 2021 and we aim to run two cohorts per annum until mid 2023.
13. Will COVID-19 impact programme delivery?
Yes, it will change the programme delivery from being predominantly face-to-face to incorporating online components. We will monitor the advice from Welsh Government and the seasonal effect on the virus and adapt the programme accordingly. We have lots of online and face-to-face delivery and we are confident that we can still deliver a valuable programme to you. Since we really value face-to-face collaboration and it is an important part of our programme, we hope that we will eventually be able to return to our usual approach.
14. What will I need to prepare before the programme starts?
We will ask you to attend a preview event to get an idea of what participation in the programme will look like. During this event, we will start you thinking about your organisation and where you may want to incorporate circular economy principles.
15. Do I have to attend every workshop?
Yes, we would like all members to commit to attend all workshops days to ensure that each cohort can develop robust new service solutions.
16. Can attendance be alternated between team members?
No, the success of communities of practice is founded on peer support and peer challenge. Therefore, the same people should attend throughout.
17. What does the application process involve?
The first stage of registration is to complete the simple Expression of Interest (EoI) form, which can be found on our website or accessed here https://swansea.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ceic-eoi