Speaking at the opening of London Tech Week today, the Mayor launched his Civic Innovation Challenge, a flagship startup programme aimed at developing new solutions to tackle climate change, support an ageing population and reduce inequality.
The Challenge will match tech startups and SMEs with leading companies and public bodies to create innovative solutions to some of London’s most pressing issues.
There are seven challenges in the first year of the programme: active travel, electric vehicle charging, affordable housing, dementia, loneliness, physical activity and financial inclusion.
Applications are open now until 8th July. The startups selected for the Challenge will receive business support and mentoring, and the opportunity to test their solutions with corporates and public organisations. The programme aims to make it easier for startups to pilot early stage solutions directly with the market.
Organisations partnering with startups on the initial round of innovations being developed are Transport for London (TfL), Ealing Council, Hackney Council, Lloyds Banking Group, Our Healthier South East London STP and National Grid.
To address the effects of the city’s ageing population, NHS organisations in south London are looking for partners to help develop a digital archive of material reminiscence therapy, to alleviate the most distressing symptoms of dementia – specifically designed to Londoners of a black and minority ethnic background. This therapy uses video, audio and images to trigger long-term memories in dementia patients, but currently services tend to only be relevant to white Londoners.
To tackle climate change – and make the city more liveable - TfL is looking for tech startups to encourage people to walk more instead of using polluting forms of transport as well as companies which can help them reduce the carbon emissions from their own network. This aligns with the Mayor’s target of 80 per cent of all trips in London to be on foot, by cycle or by public transport by 2041.
Meanwhile, Lloyds Banking Group is searching for creative solutions to tackle inequality by increasing financial inclusion, which is shown to restrict people’s economic opportunities and make it harder to move out of poverty. The projects will be aimed at helping Londoners access banking and other services as well as helping them manage their money more effectively.
The London Civic Innovation Challenge is being funded by the Mayor, the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) – via the London Growth Hub – and TfL. It will be delivered in partnership with Bethnal Green Ventures, an early stage investor in tech for good startups that radically improve people's lives.
"As one of the world’s leading technology hubs, we need to be bold and think big, to experiment and try things out that have not been done elsewhere. I see London’s future as a global ‘test-bed city’ for civic innovation, where the best ideas are developed, amplified and scaled." - Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London