The Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge

The Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge offers an opportunity for start-ups to work together with leading corporates and public organisations to tackle some of London’s most pressing problems.

This is a challenge for start-ups to develop innovative solutions to climate change, access to housing, dementia and isolation among vulnerable Londoners.

About the Civic Innovation Challenge

Eight of London’s most innovative tech firms have won financial backing from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as they work on developing solutions to some of the capital’s most pressing social and environmental problems.

The winners of the Mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge (CIC) were announced at an awards ceremony at City Hall – each has been given £15,000 to jointly test and refine their ideas with a group of public and private sector partners.

More than 100 applicants were whittled down to a shortlist of 14 companies, which further developed their ideas in response to seven challenges set out by the Mayor when he launched the contest at this year’s London Tech Week.

The challenges are designed to help tackle some of the most pressing issues for Londoners, including accessing affordable housing, reducing the harmful effect of dementia, cleaning up our air by promoting electric vehicles and helping people lead healthier, more active lives by increasing their physical activity.

Many of London’s advances in the application of data and smart technologies are recognised around the world and I want London to become a global test-bed for civic innovation.

I’m delighted to be able to match the winners of the Civic Innovation Challenge with established public bodies and private companies, and I am confident they will go on to deliver exciting solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing Londoners every day.

The fact that our city’s tech community is home to some of the most creative businesses anywhere in the world is something of which we can be really proud. We want London to be the world’s smartest city and these dynamic companies have a crucial role to play.
- Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

The winners

  • Dementia: Pearl Support Network (partner: Our Healthier South East London STP):
  • Active Travel: Go Jauntly (partner: TfL)
  • Electric Vehicles: Connected Kerb (partners: National Grid and Shell)
  • Affordable Housing: VU.CITY  and Crossmap (partner: TfL)
  • Financial Inclusion: Quids In! (partner: Lloyds Banking Group)
  • Loneliness and Isolation: Buddyhub (partner: Hackney Council):
  • Physical Activity: Elemental – The Social Prescribing People (partner: Ealing Council)

Challenge area: Climate change

Active Travel: Reducing pollution and unnecessary car journeys

Challenge Partner: Transport for London

The shift away from the use of the car will be vital in creating a future London that is not only home to more people, but is a better place for all those people to live in. The Mayor has set an aim for 80 per cent of all trips in London to be made on foot, by cycle or using public transport by 2041 – the current level is 63 per cent.

The TfL Active Travel Challenge is looking for start-ups and SMEs to develop solutions that make walking the most attractive option for journeys. TfL are particularly interested in solutions that help improve walking conditions across London. For example, these could be solutions that encourage more people to walk for part of their journey, remove barriers around safety and pollution, or provide better data on pedestrian flow and behaviours in order to shape transport policy.

Do you have an innovative solution for active travel? Apply now.

Electric Vehicles: Preparing London for zero emission transport

Challenge Partner: National Grid 

Thousands of Londoners are dying prematurely from long-term exposure to air pollution every year with other health impacts over the course of our lives. The Mayor's Transport and Environment strategies are clear that increasing the use of electric vehicles will help to radically reduce air pollution and support decarbonisation in London. However, in order for this to happen we need to expand electric vehicle infrastructure across the capital. 
Many factors have hindered the deployment of charge points by the private sector in London. The commercial viability is challenging while usage is still low, yet more charge points are required to encourage uptake. There is a lack of knowledge of customer charging habits including location, time and duration, and the pace of technology of electric car development creates risks for charge point operators.  

The National Grid Electric Vehicles challenge is calling for start-ups and SMEs to develop sustainable solutions for charging electric vehicles that will improve access and increase uptake. For example this could be by using data to optimise siting and utilisation of charging points, improving the design and access to charge points in urban areas, or by finding additional revenue streams for charge points during periods of low usage. 

Do you have an innovative solution for electric vehicles? Apply now.

Challenge area: Ageing population

Dementia Services: Ensuring dementia care works for all

Challenge Partner: Our Healthier South East London STP

More than 25,000 older black and minority ethnic (BME) people live with dementia in the UK. 

Whilst people from BME backgrounds are no less likely to be referred to Memory Assessment Services than the white British population, there is some evidence that people of Black African and Caribbean heritage in particular may develop dementia at an earlier age, and when they develop dementia they may be referred at a later stage of their illness - indicating that there are barriers to engaging with dementia services. 

Feedback from people with dementia and their carers suggests this could be because some services are not sufficiently person-centred, or they lack access to culturally appropriate resources. For example, reminiscence resources that reflect the culture and history of the community the person comes from (reminiscence therapy uses items from the past to trigger long-term memories).

The Our Healthier South East London STP Dementia Services Challenge is calling for start-ups and SMEs to develop solutions to improve dementia treatment and support services for underrepresented communities. In particular it is looking for ways to create more personalised reminiscence resources and services that reflect local BME community history and culture. 

Do you have an innovative solution for more inclusive dementia services? Apply now.

Our Healthier South East London STP is a collaboration of NHS organisations that have come together with local councils to improve services and the health of the local population.

Challenge area: Inequality

Loneliness and Isolation: Making London the most socially integrated city in the world

Challenge Partner: Hackney Council 

Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience. People who are isolated and do not engage in their immediate and wider community are often the most physically inactive, which negatively impacts health and wellbeing.

The Hackney Council Loneliness and Isolation Challenge is calling on start-ups and SMEs to find solutions that tackle social isolation and get the local community more physically active. The Council is particularly interested in solutions that meet the needs of growing number of older people in Hackney. 

For example, this could be by better mapping social groups and community activities, using technology to improve access to relevant services, or new ways of connecting people and encouraging them to take part in local activities.

Do you have an innovative solution to tackle loneliness and isolation? Apply now.

Physical Activity: Making London the world’s most active city

Challenge Partner: Ealing Council 

Regular physical activity can improve a person’s mental health and wellbeing, and reduce the risk of developing illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Helping inactive people to better meet their everyday needs through physical activity will help them become more active, healthy and independent. 

The Ealing Council Physical Activity Challenge is looking for start-ups and SMEs to develop solutions that can help inactive residents to become more physically active. 

The council is particularly interested in supporting people most likely to be physically inactive, such as low income groups (in particular families), older people at risk of isolation, black and minority ethnic groups, carers and children at risk of or suffering from obesity. 

For example, solutions could involve embedding physical activity into people’s everyday lives, using data to encourage more physical activity, and finding more active ways to connect people to their community. 

Do you have an innovative solution to encourage physical activity? Apply now.

Affordable Housing: Ensuring housing is available for all

Challenge Partner: Transport for London

TfL is delivering homes on its land on behalf of the Mayor, of which 50 per cent are to be affordable. By providing quality homes for all Londoners in an environmentally sustainable way, TfL seeks to become a leading London developer, with the aim of starting on the sites that will ultimately deliver 10,000 homes by March 2021.

TfL maintains a comprehensive database covering the whole of London, including more than 300 data sets on transport, environmental, and socio-economic factors. This provides one of the richest data sources in the UK, which sits ready for analysis. However, due to the size of TfL’s estate, this data has not been mobilised in the context of property development.

TfL is looking for start-ups and SMEs to co-create a new digital tool – one that leverages and visualises our data so as to deliver insight into how TfL can best deliver more homes across London, in line with the London Plan.

Do you have an innovative solution for delivering homes? Apply now.

Financial Inclusion and Digital Skills: Ensuring all Londoners can manage their money

Too many people in the UK still have no bank account or cannot get access to basic or fairly priced financial services. At the same time a tenth of the adult population (at working age) are still without basic digital skills. Bringing people into the financial system can quantifiably improve household and national well-being. Lloyds Banking Group recognises that more needs to be done by businesses and government to reduce the threat of digital exclusion and promote financial inclusion.

The Lloyds Banking Group Financial Inclusion and Digital Skills Challenge is looking for start-ups and SMEs to develop solutions that will help people learn digital skills and access better banking services. For example, this could be by using Open Banking APIs to create more inclusive advice, products and services, or by creating better ways to gain digital skills and financial education.

Do you have an innovative solution for financial inclusion and digital skills? Apply now.

Programme stages

Business support and customer discovery: September 2018

15 start-ups and SMEs (2 per challenge) were shortlisted to receive business support from Bethnal Green Ventures, to help them prepare for running a successful pilot. During this time they will also met with the challenge partner to better understand the problem and set the criteria for a successful pilot. 

At the end of this period, each start-up submitted a short pilot plan detailing activities, outcomes and operational requirements. 

Experimentation and validation: October and November 2018

Start-ups pitched their pilot plan to the challenge partners and key stakeholders at an invite-only event held at City Hall in October. 

One winner for each challenge except two for the affordable housing challenge (8 startups total) were selected to progress to the experimentation and validation phase. They are working closely with the challenge partner for two months to test and validate their solution, and receive £15,000 from the GLA to support costs.

Demo Day: December 2018

This is the big event where the winning start-ups will get to present the results of their pilot and share learning with an audience of potential customers, investors, partners and supporters. They will receive pitching training from Bethnal Green Ventures to prepare for this event. 

What happens next?

Challenge partners will actively explore ways to continue working with the start-up. This could involve ongoing implementation and integration, and/or access to additional funding, customers and partnerships.

The Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge is a programme with:





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