Government Calls on Innovative Tech Firms to Help Tackle the UK’s Biggest Challenges

Posted on the 14 May 2018

Government Calls on Innovative Tech Firms to Help Tackle the UK’s Biggest Challenges

The Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden MP, will announce the first round of challenges to be tackled through the £20m GovTech Fund.

The fund, launched by the Prime Minister in November 2017, is designed to incentivise UK tech firms to come up with innovative solutions to fix public sector problems and improve services for citizens.

The Government Digital Service is driving innovation by challenging tech experts to find solutions for issues ranging from security, tackling loneliness to reducing plastic waste.

The first competition opens on Monday 14 May and runs for six weeks, with the remaining competitions being launched in subsequent months.

Tech firms bidding to the fund will have free rein to create truly innovative fixes. Those that are successful will receive funding to cover their research and development costs.

Winning companies will be awarded up to £50,000 to develop their ideas. The companies providing the best potential solutions will then be awarded research and development contracts of up to £500,000 to build prototypes. These solutions will then be available to the public sector to purchase.

Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden, in the Cabinet Office said: 
“The UK is a world-leader in digital innovation and this Government is committed to providing more opportunities for tech businesses - including small firms - to access public procurement contracts. The GovTech fund encourages firms to find innovative ways to fix the big social problems we all face - loneliness, increasing plastic pollution and national security.

“Through emerging technologies, this fund will elevate UK companies onto a global market while helping to deliver outstanding public services and improving lives for citizens.”

Durham County Council, in collaboration with Blaenau Gwent Council, will be delivering the challenge of ‘intelligent data to transform Local Authority service delivery’, exploring how real-time data routinely captured by residents and vehicles can be used to improve public service delivery while reducing costs.

The leader of Durham County Council, Cllr Simon Henig, commented: 
“We are delighted that we have been selected for one of the GovTech Fund challenges. This will help drive innovation in our economy and provide more opportunities for Durham businesses to access public procurement and funding. Alongside this, as an organisation, we stand to gain an innovative, bespoke solution that will enable us to deliver even better public services based on the use of real-time data. We wish all companies participating in the challenge good luck and we look forward to seeing their ideas.”

Catherine Johns, Innovation Director at Business Durham, which works on behalf of Durham County Council, added: 
“The GovTech Fund Catalyst competition sits perfectly with the approach that we have long taken in the North East of providing tangible solutions to real problems with a focus on commerciality. We have significant experience in developing open innovation challenges and providing support to the businesses and organisations involved. We are excited to get underway with this new challenge and anticipate it being a great success.”

The challenges will be announced today at the Government’s flagship digital conference, Sprint 18.