Launchpad: turning ideas into reality

Ideas are only ever ideas until you make it happen. That’s less of a statement and more of a challenge for those working in government. But connect government to experts and you might just be on the cusp of seeming that could transform all our lives. That’s the idea of Launchpad, an initiative by the UK Civil Service and the Centre for Public Impact to help civil servants progress their ideas through new connections. Once connected, ideas are improved and refined and pitched to a board in government that will decide whether it can back the idea to become a reality.

The first Launchpad took place at HM Treasury in the UK and brought together experts in artificial intelligence, robotics and data science with civil servants to see how such advances could help progress ideas in government.

The event was opened by Ed Whiting, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister and we heard two inspiring short talks; one on the possibilities of machine learning by David Singleton of Google, another on how government can lead on cognitive computing by Cameron Brookes of IBM Watson.

A panel, chaired by the Director for the Government Office for Science, Claire Craig, with Paul Newman of the University of Oxford and Andrew Blake of the Turing Institute chewed over the ideas and the audience asked how the ideas could translate into government with such challenges as regulation and data sharing sensitivities. The audience was urged to free their minds of all restrictions and imagine that anything is possible.

After a lively networking session, people left us with a summary of their ideas and new connections they would like to continue to strengthen. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be helping new teams form and ideas flourish. Who knows what innovations of the future will have begun with a Launchpad event? We will keep you informed on progress.