Mayor’s first ever Civic Innovation Challenges mobilise London’s tech community to meet citizen needs

Smart London
Sep 5, 2018 · 3 min read

Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London, outlines London’s first ever Civic Innovation Challenges

A new way for cities to meet citizens’ needs is to offer innovation prizes to the tech community to help solve public service or urban problems identified by the city or directly by citizens.

In other cities these initiatives have successfully co-designed and tested ideas that can be scaled up to meet the needs of the whole city. Examples from the UK and around the world include Amsterdam’s Startup in Residence, New York’s NYCx Challenges and CivTech Scotland.

Here at City Hall we’re announcing the finalists for the first ever Civic Innovation Challenge, the Mayor of London’s new initiative that matches tech startups and SMEs with leading companies and public bodies to create innovative solutions to some of London’s most pressing problems.

Our new shortlist

More than 100 applicants have been whittled down to a shortlist of fourteen companies who will further develop the proposals they submitted in response to seven urban challenges set out by the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, in June.

We need to be bold and to think big. This involves being willing to try new ways of doing things. I see London’s future as a global ‘test-bed city’ for civic innovation, where the best ideas are developed, amplified and scaled.” (Mayor Sadiq Khan)

Meeting our mission to create more user-designed services, the Civic Innovation Challenge is one of the first big actions of the Smarter London Together Roadmap.

The startups and SMEs were chosen to tackle some of London’s most pressing issues, from climate change to inequality to the health challenges associated with an ageing population.

The Mayor has brought together a range of partners, along with delivery partner Bethnal Green Ventures — including Transport for London, National Grid, Shell, Lloyds Banking Group, the London boroughs of Hackney and Ealing, and a group of London NHS trusts — to offer the companies valuable mentoring and support as they develop their solutions.

The finalists will receive targeted business support during September and compete to win £15,000 to further develop their ideas by running a pilot with partners later this year.

The finalists for the first ever Mayor of London Civic Innovation Challenge are:

Active Travel Challenge, backed by Transport for London

Electric Vehicles Challenge, backed by National Grid and Shell

Dementia Services Challenge, backed by Our Healthier South East London STP

Delivering Affordable Homes Challenge, backed by Transport for London

Financial Inclusion and Digital Skills Challenge, backed by Lloyds Banking Group

Loneliness and Isolation Challenge, backed by Hackney Council

Physical Activity Challenge, backed by Ealing Council

A survey of all startups that applied found that 42 per cent had management teams that were over 50 per cent women, while 35 per cent had management teams that were over 50 per cent from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background.

We were overwhelmed by the number of applications to the Challenge, which once again demonstrated the incredible talent and rich diversity of the startup community in London.

In the future, the public will also be directly involved in deciding the focus of and setting future innovation challenges.

The Civic Innovation Challenge is one way we are exploring the changing ways in which Londoners are using civic platforms, rapidly prototyping and testing different models for delivering this innovation in partnership with London’s tech community.

Smart London

Written by

@MayorofLondon CDO & Smart London Board putting data & technology at the heart of making London an even better place to live, work and visit

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