London mayor Khan funds tech start-ups to help solve capital’s ‘most pressing problems’

Eight companies have been chosen to receive £15,000 in R&D funds

Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire/PA Images

Eight London-based start-ups have been chosen by mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured above) to each receive £15,000 to develop potential solutions to “some of the capital’s most pressing social and environmental problems”.

The mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge worked with a range of partner organisations in the private and public sector to identify seven key challenges facing London and its citizens. This includes issues related to public health, transport, housing, and social inclusion.

Start-ups based in the capital were then invited to propose solutions to these challenges.

The scheme received more than 100 applications from local SMEs, with 15 of these chosen to receive initial support and mentoring from investment house Bethnal Green Ventures. 

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This has now been whittled down to eight firms who, in addition to continued business support, will each receive £15,000 to fund the development and testing of their solution. The participating organisations will also work closely with partner organisations – including two borough councils and Transport for London – to help refine their products and ensure they are addressing the challenge at hand.

This development phase will culminate in a demo day in December, where all the participating companies will present their product and the results of initial pilot schemes.

The seven challenges and the winning technology firms are:

Ensuring dementia care works for all
Proposed by Our Healthier South East London Sustainability and Transformation Plan
Winning bidder: Pearl Support Network

This project aims to provide BAME dementia sufferers with reminiscence sessions that are “culturally relevant” to their lives and experiences. Pearl Support Network will use software programs and online platforms to provide a range of “tools, music, memorabilia, and activities”.

Reducing pollution and unnecessary car journeys
Proposed by Transport for London
Winning bidder: Go Jauntly

Promoting walking as a hobby for Londoners is the goal of this project. Go Jauntly, which offers a free app providing suggested local walks, will work on developing a prototype tool that uses augmented reality to encourage walking.

Preparing London for zero emissions transport
Proposed by National Grid and Shell
Winning bidder: Connected Kerb

This project will see electric vehicle charging specialist Connected Kerb developing “smart charge points” that offer users cheaper and easier charging options.

Ensuring all Londoners can manage their money well
Proposed by Lloyds Banking Group
Winning bidder: Quids In! Readers Club

Having launched as a magazine providing financial tips for money-management, Quids In! will be trialling an email newsletter providing advice on benefits – particularly Universal Credit – as well as information on budgeting and online banking.

Making London the most socially integrated city in the world
Proposed by Hackney Council
Winning bidder: BuddyHub

A technology-based “befriending service” will be trialled across the borough of Hackney. The project aims to help older people connect with others nearby who share their interests.

Making London the world’s most active city
Proposed by Ealing Council
Winning bidder: Elemental Software

This project will involve the use of “innovative referral-making and referral-tracking technology” which aims to help people find local exercise activities that suit their budget and ability level.

Ensuring housing is available for all
Proposed by Transport for London
Winning bidder: VU.CITY and Crossmap

VU.CITY, which specialises in 3D modelling for cities, will use this project to work on “ produce a tool to help housing developers and local authorities understand the implications of changes in the built environment”. Crossmap, meanwhile, is online tool for the visualisation of data. The company’s technology will be used in this project to help TfL “orientate through complex datasets on an interactive map with the possibility of cross-querying different data layers”.


Mayor Khan said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

Sam Trendall

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