Monmouthshire stages rural isolation GovTech challenge

Written by Derek Hobbs, Chair of Digital Leaders Wales

As Chair of Digital Leaders Wales I wanted to highlight a funded opportunity to support a successful Welsh Govtech Catalyst challenge with Monmouthshire CBC. This is on top of the council’s wider initiative to combat rural isolation throughout Wales. The challenge is aimed at tech businesses to come up with digital solutions to dealing with some of the issues around rural isolation.

So if you are an innovative business or know one please make sure they know about this and the wider GovTech Challenge initiative as they can support any challenge across the UK and Digital Leaders is working with GDS to help deliver this

Below I set out a comprehensive outline of the 3-part Monmouth Challenge on “Vulnerability and Isolation in Rural Wales”, and getting involved with tackling phase one of the application.

What is the opportunity?

Loneliness is rapidly becoming a social and health epidemic for generations both young and old. In a rural county such as Monmouthshire with a population of around 93,000 , loneliness and social isolation can have a significant impact on people’s health and wellbeing, and can be even more prevalent due to ageing demographics and limited transport provision. The reduction in budgets to subsidise traditional transport services has intensified the problems of loneliness and made it harder for young people to obtain training and employment.

Funding from the Govtech Catalyst provides the opportunity to research and pilot new technology to combat rural loneliness and transport deprivation. While helping people to help each other, a solution would ease the pressures on health and social care budgets and reduce local transport subsidies.

The challenge has 3 parts

  • How can we reduce loneliness for older people (who are currently digitally excluded) using technology that is inclusive, accessible and intuitive?
  • How can we coordinate transport more efficiently to increase citizens’ ability to travel in rural areas while reducing public subsidy?
  • How can we better connect people in rural areas to improve their well-being at the same time reduce pressure on the health and social care systems?

Potential bidders can address one or more parts of the challenge, and we welcome bids with the potential to bring the 3 challenge parts together.

What do suppliers get?

Phase 1

Phase 1 is an opportunity to apply for up to £50k (inc VAT) to research and develop idea/projects; plus the opportunity to bid for additional funding up to £500k in Phase 2 if your phase 1 is successful. You will retain the intellectual property, and help tackle the huge societal challenge that is loneliness for people today and future generations.

How do you get involved?

If you’d like to read more about the challenge, you can find further information on the Innovation Funding Service website, and you must register before Wednesday 29 August 2018 12:00pm if you wish to apply. You can also find further information ​on the GovTech challenge page on the Monmouthshire County Council Website.

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) approach that the Govtech Catalyst follows provides an exciting opportunity to procure solutions in different ways. Part of this is encouraging different sectors and businesses to come together to solve big challenges. They have created a Slack workspace which anyone can join to connect with other interested parties, ask questions and share ideas/information. If this is of interest I encourage you to join the conversation and make contact with potential collaborators via our Slack space. They will be adding further instructions to the Slack page as it progresses. As a starting point it would be great if you could introduce yourself, share a little about what sort of work you do and also say who you may be looking to collaborate with and/or learn from.

If you need any further guidance on joining the Slack space or if you have any additional questions you can contact their team direct [email protected].

Please spread the word and I look forward to seeing many of you at the next DL Wales Salon.


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