Mayor invites Londoners to back innovation on the High Street

01 March 2016

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson, is today announcing a new £730,000 scheme to support local community projects as part of a world-leading civic crowdfunding initiative.

Crowdfunding allows anyone to propose an idea and for members of the public to fund it. If enough people pledge just a small amount, an idea can quickly become reality.

The Mayor’s partnership with Spacehive - the world’s first crowdfunding website dedicated to civic projects – means community organisations have the chance to pitch an idea that benefits their local community and attract financial pledges from the members of the public and the Mayor.

The Mayor will pledge up to £20,000 towards the best crowdfunding campaigns that can demonstrate the most local enthusiasm.

Projects could help to make a High Street a better place to visit or do business in, improve or establish a local market, give a new lease of life to a forgotten local space or empty building, improve access to healthy and affordable food or create a new cultural feature that attracts people to the area.

Ideas need to be crowdfunding on the Mayor’s Spacehive page by May 1 to be considered for a pledge, but it is recommended that projects are posted as early as possible to allow for public awareness, debate and refinement before a full campaign begins. A series of workshops for groups interested in putting forward ideas will be held in London throughout March.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This is a unique opportunity to empower Londoners to come together and make a huge difference in their community by pitching great ideas that matter to them. I look forward to seeing a whole raft of innovative solutions to local issues that will help to make the city an even better place to live, visit and work in.”

The Mayor has already delivered two successful rounds of crowdfunding through his High Street Fund, investing a total of £600,000 in 37 projects. In the last round, the Mayor backed 20 schemes with £285,000 worth of pledges. These were matched by more than £430,000 worth of pledges from the crowd, with over 2,200 backers from local Londoners to businesses.

The latest round of civic crowdfunding was launched today by Daniel Moylan, Chairman of the Mayor’s Design Advisory Group and London Enterprise Panel (LEP) SME Working Group Member at the PEER Gallery in Hoxton. The Mayor has pledged £19,000 towards the gallery’s plans to replace its shopfront after the project raised £25,000 from 187 backers through Spacehive.

Other successful civic crowdfunding campaigns ran through the Mayor and Spacehive include:

• Peckham Coal Line in Southwark – The Mayor has pledged £10,000 towards the group’s target of £66,000 in order to transform disused coal sidings on the railway line between Queens Road Peckham and Peckham Rye station into a 1km stretch of elevated green space. The campaign attracted 928 backers including Southwark Council and Sustrans, bringing the wider community together from businesses to local people.

• Good Food Catford in Lewisham – The Mayor has pledged £14,000 towards the group’s target of £33,000 in order to bring a vacant high street shop back into use as a community grocery store, selling affordable local and surplus vegetables grown in community gardens and allotments as well we providing workshops, training and advice on healthy eating. The campaign attracted 344 backers.

Daniel Moylan Chairman of the Mayor’s Design Advisory Group and LEP SME Working Group Member said: “Civic crowdfunding has the power to transform the way City Hall and Londoners come together to shape the places in which we all live, work and play. Using Spacehive for this pilot, has allowed us to combine our grants with funds from individuals, businesses and organisations, meaning we can make more great projects happen faster, tapping into the wealth of creativity and enthusiasm within communities across the city.”

Chris Gourlay, Founder of Spacehive, said; “A community coming together around a successful campaign is incredibly powerful. You will meet new people, build new relationships and find the skills to get things done that you never thought possible. A pledge from the Mayor will really help you on your way, and there are many more people and companies who will want to be a part of a great idea”

This is the first time the Mayor of a major European city has used a civic crowdfunding website to directly pledge money to citizen projects in this way and was recently recognised at the World Government Summit as a leading innovation. To date, over £575,000 has been pledged to 37 local projects. This represents a pioneering new relationship between City Hall and Londoners that realises the creativity and enterprise of local communities and businesses.

The programme is part of the London Enterprise Panel’s (LEP) £20m London Regeneration Fund which was launched by the Mayor) following a successful bid to Government in January 2015 as part of the LEP’s Growth Deal. The fund gives local authorities, traders’ associations, workspace providers, and community groups the chance to come forward with exciting proposals that will help new and traditional places of work thrive in a rapidly changing city.

For full instructions to submit your idea and to view previous project examples, visit the Mayor’s Spacehive page: http://spacehive.com/Initiatives/mayoroflondon

Notes to editors

1. In February 2016, the programme was recognised at the World Government Summit as one of the top 11 innovations in global government thinking. The programme is a four-stage pilot to test how City Hall utilise new technology in a positive way to promote transparent and participatory democracy for Londoners.

2. Over his two terms, the Mayor’s dedicated regeneration funds have invested £189m and levered in about £131.5m in match funding that has helped more than 85 high streets adapt to changing circumstances and thrive. This funding has also seen almost 1,000 shopfronts improved, 1,577 jobs created, and training and support received by over 3,000 businesses and young people.

3. Spacehive.com, launched in 2012 and is the world’s first crowdfunding platform for civic projects. The London based start-up has successfully funded 157 projects across the UK worth £4.7 million. Over 700 projects are currently in development and Spacehive is working in partnership with cities across the UK including Manchester, Cardiff, Hull as well as 15 London boroughs, and the Mayor of London. The social business also works with companies like Barclays and BT to create co-funding initiatives for projects. Spacehive has received awards from Nesta, IBM, Cabinet Office, Deloitte, UnLtd, and the Big Venture Challenge.

4. The London Enterprise Panel (LEP) is the local enterprise partnership for London. Chaired by the Mayor, the LEP is the body through which the Mayoralty works with London's boroughs, business and Transport for London to take a strategic view of the regeneration, employment and skills agenda for London. The LEP is responsible for overseeing the allocation of over £400m of funding to drive jobs and growth in the capital and provides strategic oversight of London’s €1.5 billion European Structural & Investment Funds programme.