Digital Leaders - Latest initiatives to stimulate innovation in citizen services

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Join Digital Leaders North East at the NWG Innovation Festival on Newcastle Racecourse on Thursday 12th July from 9.30am-4pm for an interactive day of show and tell looking at the latest technologies and how they are being used to rethink citizen services.

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The NWG Innovation festival is in its second year and our event in the main tent will also give you access to all the sprints, tech innovation displays, food and entertainment taking place during the day on the Thursday of the festival with a Digital Leaders free pass.

We will be on the main stage in the “Funderdome” for a 2-hour morning and 2 hour afternoon session with speakers and demonstrations from local government, central government and innovative tech businesses. You will hear answers to challenges such as

“Can Voice, AI and Blockchain - now readily available technologies - be used in initiatives like Universal Credit or to support those people on disability benefits?”

We think the answer is currently no, but you can be certain that some very smart people are working hard to make this reality.

We have the Government’s new Govtech Catalyst team with us. They are offering up to £20m to support teams of local government and local innovative tech businesses to improve public services. We will hear from Durham, the North East’s first successful bid.

We will also hear what the Newcastle based DWP R&D Unit are doing with new technologies including experiments with Alexa and tests to try and use voice in social services.

From the private sector we will hear from the Newcastle based Invotra team about how they are working with Blockchain and from local firm Durhamlane about the latest ideas for using chatbots.



Fintan Galvin - CEO/Founder at invotra


Robin Knowles - Founder and CEO at Digital Leaders

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Aswini Dasika – Principal Software Engineer

Aswini has 14 years’ experience in application programming and architecture and is currently working as a Principal Software Engineer within DWP Digital’s Data & Analytics Practice.  He’s passionate about voice interactive technology and how it can help users access internet applications.

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Adam Pearce - DWP Fraud and Error Statistics Development team lead

This year marks Adam's 10th year in DWP and for the majority of that time he has been working in various statistical publication teams. Data visualisation is a passion of his, in particular interactive web-based visualisations. Alongside Ryan Dunn, he helped set up the Data Visualisation community within DWP and created an online, self-service Data Visualisation training website to help train up all DWP staff (not just analysts) in presenting data


Nick Tait


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9:30  - Arrival and Coffee

10:00 - Welcome from event Chair Robin Knowles

10:05 - Presentation on the Innovation Festival - NWG

10:30 - DWP R&D Show and tell DWP and voice and visualisation of data

11:30  - Local firm Invotra - Innovating with AI and Blockchain

12:30 - Lunch and visit to the Festival Site (2 hours)

14:30 - Degree Apprenticeships Programme - NWG

15:00 - Govtech Challenges in the North East – GDS Catalyst / Durham and Digital Leaders

16:00 - Close and visit to the Festival Site