April and May have been two of the busiest months in The Insight Works history. Our team has grown with the addition of Matt, our Future Business Manager, who tends to have 7 ideas before breakfast all of which he enjoys relaying to us across the office. (We love him). But its also seen the first raft of ESIF Calls launched. This of course has brought with it a number of inevitable challenges that have caused many headaches amongst our customers - Tight deadlines, LEP geographies, new regulations, Logasnet (more on that later), the small matter of designing a winning project that creates growth, and literally some guidance from DCLG - not all guidance is available yet, although we still manage to have around 2000 pages of the stuff available.
Working with so many different types of organisations to complete their outline applications has been real eye opener even for John, our "wiley, been around the block a few times", managing director. Logasnet has caused almost everyone problems - to be expected from new systems - and to be honest we find it much easier to complete an application form in word and email it. It's been great to see all the different ways people get to a project and the design process they go through - and its this that has really pleased and inspired us in these early stages.
We've always been of the opinion, and always will, that ERDF and ESF funding gives practitioners almost a completely blank canvas to work with. Yes there are rules that you need to follow in terms of eligible activity and expenditure, procurement principals, compliance with publicity regulations and the dreaded State Aid. But the potential to create new and innovative delivery models that genuinely enhance existing ones is almost unrivalled. New ways of engaging customers, radical approaches to aquisition, innovative ways to deliver value - all are possible with ERDF.
Remember those times when you've sat at your desk, or in a meeting, and come up with a fantastic new way of doing something that you know will work and deliver results, but you haven't had the resource to do it - well ESIF gives you that opportunity. It always has, and - subject to a referendum (fingers crossed) - always will.