Co>Space North – the power of proximity
What if we could create excellent conditions for digital innovation to flourish in the NHS and social care? This was the question that led to mHabitat being more than just an idea, and then to become a project, and then to evolve into an NHS hosted organisation with a social purpose – digital technologies for social good that are co-designed with people at the centre.
We chose the name mHabitat (originally mHealthHabitat) to reflect our mission to create those conditions by bringing people together to share, learn and collaborate. Our experience tells us that innovation is a social process that emerges when diverse people come together in trusted relationships and with shared values and a common goal. We initially seeded the habitat by bringing people together in many different ways – projects, hack days, learning events and workshops. However, in the back of our minds we always dreamt of a virtual and physical space where we could nurture and sustain innovation through the power of proximity.
It was only when we joined Futurelabs_ that the possibility of creating a physical space became more than a pipe-dream. Our office in Leeds city-centre tech hub has given us valuable connections to a whole bunch of wonderful people and it got us thinking about how we might create a dedicated space of our own. Given that Leeds is becoming known for its digital health sector and we have NHS Digital and NHS England on our doorstep, we thought that maybe it could work.
A few months on and we have a pop-up space at Futurelabs, a launch planned for early June, and an open afternoon during Leeds Digital Festival on 25 April where people can pop in and help us shape Co>Space North. If you’re looking for something shiny and fancy then this won’t be the space for you. But if you’re looking for a community of people who are passionate about digital health and care and who want to connect, collaborate, and co-create then come and hang out with us – we want to spend time with you!
Our founder members are NHS Digital, NHS England, NHS Leadership Academy, Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network, Leeds City Council and the NHS in Leeds. We are chuffed that members of the Leeds City-wide Digital Development Team will be spending time working from Co>Space North once we’re up and running.
We were tickled-pink to have the support of Beverley Bryant, Tom Riordan and Dylan Roberts who came along for a chat and a few photos this week. We also found it thought provoking to hear from Nicola at HMA and Stephen at Ayup about their experiences of the opportunities and challenges of working with the NHS. We’ve already started to think about how, through Co>Space North, we can help address some of those challenges as we get going.
So watch this space for collaboration, co-working, breakfast conversations, lunchtime seminars, evening meet-ups, jelly working days and much much more. Please do follow us on Twitter @CoSpaceNorthHQ and join our mailing list for updates. And we’d love to chat with you in person at our Leeds Digital Festival open afternoon on Tuesday 25 April. You can book here and drop in anytime between 2pm and 5pm.