Over the course of 2023, Digital Jersey’s focus has been firmly on nurturing digital innovation to drive transformation across all sectors of our economy and in all corners of Island life and we have seen that play out in numerous ways through exciting collaborations, a big focus on skills and a significant emphasis on innovation.
An important and integral part of these efforts was the launch in 2023 of the new Government of Jersey ‘Impact Jersey’ scheme – impact.je – which is being delivered through Digital Jersey.
Designed to play a major role in accelerating and strengthening Jersey’s technology ecosystem, Impact Jersey was created to support the Island’s future economy, environmental ambitions and community goals.
Impact Jersey will award up to £20 million over three years by incentivising innovators across the public and private sectors to collaborate and solve the Island’s biggest challenges, through the use and adoption of technology.
Through a series of ‘open’ programmes, Impact Jersey will offer people and businesses grants for projects designed to implement or grow technological solutions to various Island challenges. This open approach is similar to the UK Smart Grant scheme, designed to focus mainly on stimulating small medium enterprise, a key target group in Jersey’s innovation ecosystem.
The first Impact Jersey Open Programme is providing funding of up to £75,000 for projects that tackle one or more of eight strategic priorities: addressing climate change, responding to housing needs for Islanders, supporting sustainable transport transition, increasing health and wellbeing, lifting productivity, improving supply chain resilience, supporting digital skills growth and creating new economic opportunities.
Meanwhile, challenge programmes will focus on one of the strategic priorities and welcome a range of innovators to focus on a particular topic.
Overall, the idea is that Impact Jersey will identify and fund the brightest ideas and solutions from across all sectors of our local community, to help drive real impact and positive change.
The First Grant Programme
The launch of the first grant programme marked a particularly exciting moment in Jersey’s evolution as a digital-first island – reflecting the confidence Jersey’s authorities have in democratising problem solving and drawing on expertise from across the community.
With applications being accepted over the summer, ‘bids’ for the open grants from individuals and businesses were assessed by an independent panel of judges, before the successful bids were announced in late 2023.
There is no doubt that it is an unconventional scheme for Jersey – but it underlines the belief that getting to grips with some of the issues the Island and its community face needs a collaborative response, as well as an openness to reframing how we think about risk.
It is why a considerable amount of time was spent on the design phase of Impact Jersey, to ensure it was as transparent as possible, able to demonstrate good governance, whilst at the same time giving innovators the freedom to develop groundbreaking solutions.
The creation of the Impact Jersey scheme in 2023 reflects why Digital Jersey exists today – to not only nurture a vibrant and thriving digital sector but to enable the adoption of technology in non-digital sectors of the economy and lay the foundations for a digital future too.
Looking forward, we are excited to see how those who were successful in the first round of awards from the programme can make an impact and how our local community of innovators can continue to help drive meaningful change through the power of digital in Jersey.
We are also looking forward to the next stage of the programme as we launch the first ‘challenge’ initiative through the scheme.
Overall, the objective is for Impact Jersey to help develop a culture of digital enablement within businesses and enhance entrepreneurial and community spirit.
It is a culture that runs right through Digital Jersey’s activity, including across the financial services sector too. The Island wide Fintech Sandbox, for instance, provides Jersey’s well established finance industry, supported by an independent Government and a robust regulator, with an ideal testbed for fintech in a controlled environment. It is another example of encouraging innovation, enabling companies to bring cutting edge fintech products and services to the market.
As Digital Jersey continues to focus across all of its workstreams on skills development, collaboration and driving innovation, Impact Jersey will remain a pivotal initiative, reflecting perfectly our understanding that our success as an Island depends on our collective ability to integrate digital technologies in smart and diverse ways.