London mayor Khan backs seven tech firms in ‘poverty prevention challenge’

Competition run by local authority in the capital awards up to £50,000 each to companies offering tools to help citizens access support services and budgets for food, rent, and bills

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds to seven firms providing technology intended to help citizens in the capital cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

The support has been given out via City Hall’s ‘Poverty Prevention Challenge’ unveiled at the start of this year. The competition is part of the wider Challenge LDN programme, which has thus far invested £2.5m with SMEs and start-ups providing tech intended to help solve key public-service challenges.

The latest batch of challenge winners – each of which will receive investment of up to £50,000 – put  forward proposals for the use of technology or services to help Londoners cope financial challenges. The chosen organisations are:

  • Mealia – a firm that provides an “AI grocery assistant” to help families manage their food shopping
  • Mendee – a company which provides charities supporting refuges with its SiBot AI technology to help manage their provision of services
  • MatchingMind – provider of a “matchmaking platform” to help people access “support that fits, based on their lived experiences”
  • Time to Spare – which has created a platform to enable charities to more easily share data with local authorities
  • Mortar Works – provider of Rent Response: a technology designed to support renters at risk of falling into arrears
  • SuperFi – an organisation that offers a platform to help people manage their bills and credit payments, and access financial advice and links to services from a single dashboard
  • CARD-HR – which offers free legal services to citizens and non-profit organisations in south-east London

The mayor’s office said that the challenge was launched to help address the challenges of the 54% of citizens that say they are either “financially struggling” or “just about managing”.

“The cost of living crisis continues to hit Londoners hard and these innovative projects will help thousands who are struggling to make ends meet in the wake of soaring energy costs and food prices,” said Khan (pictured above). “Local government and community groups are working tirelessly to support residents during the cost of living crisis. But as a city we must continue to innovate and AI and new digital services have a real role to play in assisting that. Supporting open calls to London’s tech sector means we can apply new approaches to the challenges people face. By working this way we can break down silos, collaborate with new partners and build a better, safer, fairer and more prosperous London for everyone.”

Theo Blackwell, chief digital officer for London said: “I congratulate all those who took part, the winners and the forward-thinking of Barnet council in trying out this new approach.  Over the past five years setting open calls – or challenges – like this has allowed us to be bolder and work more collaboratively with London’s start-ups and scale ups. Seeking and testing new ideas and learning from others, is an important part of London’s new way of working.”

Sam Trendall

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