The next chapter in the eternal quest to build “digital capability” in the Australian Public Service may be the creation of an “innovative online learning platform” by a company that received a $100,000 federal grant to spend on a three-month feasibility study.
Melbourne-based consulting and training firm Next Paradigm will finish exploring this simple idea at the end of September, according to Chelsea Sargeant, a business analyst at the Digital Transformation Agency, who says the agency is “excited to see” the final proposal.
“Over this time, the team plans to continue testing and iterating prototypes, and developing an adoption strategy, ending the 3 months with a final report,” she writes on the DTA blog. Sargeant says the agency hopes the project will bear fruit in the form of “an innovative learning platform solution to support APS employees in progressing digital transformation” also known as a “digital capability hub”.
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science provided the grant through the Business Research and Innovation Initiative. The second round of the BRII grant program is all about funding ideas to improve government services. Small-to-medium enterprises were challenged to come up with solutions to five specific challenges set by different government agencies.
The DTA, as one of the five, wanted ideas for “uplifting government capability to create digital transformation” and it appears to have found kindred spirits in Next Paradigm, a firm founded in 2014 and staffed by people who only seem to have first names but claim a lot of expertise in digital transformation, being agile, designing experiences and so on.
Sargeant explains a little about how the company was granted the funding on the DTA blog:
“After our selection as a challenge agency, and promoting our challenge at roadshows around Australia, we were delighted to have more than 20 applications from interested small-to-medium enterprises. The proposals were diverse, interesting, and full of innovative ideas. Next Paradigm was awarded the $100,000 grant to start their feasibility study after a thorough assessment process, involving Innovation and Science Australia and us.”
Their proposal was assessed on three criteria: the extent to which it meets the challenge, the “market opportunity” it represents and the applicant’s “capacity, capability and resources” to follow through.
Next Paradigm’s $100,000 feasibility study began in July. “The Next Paradigm team has been busy, with a keen focus on user needs,” Sargeant says.
“Over the last 2 months, the team has been conducting user research interviews with APS staff, including from the DTA. They have also begun testing and iterating prototypes with users, engaging with employees seeking individual growth opportunities in digital, as well as with managers and executives seeking to grow the digital capabilities of their team.”
Next Paradigm is the only firm to win a grant to explore ways of “uplifting government capability to create digital transformation” through the second round of BRII grants. Also under the same program:
- Two grants of $100,000 went to SMEs having a crack at fast and secure digital identity verification for people experiencing family and domestic violence.
- Ideas for intelligent data to transform tourism service delivery attracted three grants of $100,000 and one of $70,000.
- Four grants, each just a smidgen under $100,000, support SMEs looking at new ways of managing the biosecurity of hitchhiking pests and contaminants on shipping containers
- Three $100,000 grants and one for a few thousand less support ideas for automating complex determinations for Australian Government information.
Brief summaries of each of the winning ideas are available on business.gov.au.
Earlier this year, before the decision was made, the DTA explained what it hoped its grant recipient would achieve in a 10-minute video on YouTube: