‘Tech for good’ links for business

Paul Braithwaite.
Paul Braithwaite.

A unique ‘tech for good’ project has paired two Londonderry community organisations with a leading tech company to harness the power of digital technology in order to make big changes to social problems.

The Building Change Trust’s Techies in Residence Programme brings together smart, talented people from the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector with digital specialists in order to tackle unique problems by using innovative solutions and create real social impact.

There was a huge amount of interest for the Techies in Residence programme, delivered by Innovate NI and from these high quality proposals, Derry’s Greater Shantallow Area Partnership and The Old Library Trust have both been paired with tech companies to help develop new digital tools.

GSAP is working with tech company OLI (Outside Looking IN) to develop a digital approach to heritage interpretation at the North Townlands Heritage Project.

And Old Library Trust is working with company The Learning Pool on a new digital approach to the SWEET Programme (Safe Wellbeing Eating & Exercise Together) to prevent childhood obesity.

Work has now begun on the project with completion due in early June. Techies in Residence aims to kick-start digital social innovation in Northern Ireland and showcase what can be achieved by combining the two sectors, developing long standing partnerships between the tech community and VCSE organisations.

Paul Braithwaite, who heads up the Trust’s work in Social Innovation, said: “The response to Techies in Residence has been overwhelmingly positive with a really strong group of VCSE organisations combined with technical experts who have a track record of developing successful innovative solutions to complex problems.”

“It’s not about one group ‘teaching’ the other how it’s done – it’s about collaborating and mutual learning around shared challenges. The Digital Social Innovation or Tech for Good movement is growing hugely across Europe and internationally. Northern Ireland is behind the curve and needs to catch up, we’re trying to help. Key to all of this is the idea that digital innovation, and innovation in general, should no longer be thought of only as a way of growing the economy but something than can help us deal with a range of societal challenges and increase wellbeing across the board.”