Public Services and the communities they serve are facing some pretty big challenges. We don’t always have the answers to these. The GovTech Catalyst is a new scheme created by the UK Government that aims to help technology firms develop innovative fixes to public sector challenges.

Monmouthshire has been successful in a bid to the GovTech Catalyst and has been allocated up to £1.25m of Cabinet Office funding to encourage technology firms to develop and pilot solutions to loneliness and limited rural transport. Firms have a free reign to suggest solutions via a pre-commercial procurement (PCP) process called the small business research initiative or SBRI for short. In Phase 1, five potential projects will be selected to receive funding up to £50,000 each to cover research and development costs.  The best of these could be awarded funding up to £500,000 in Phase 2 to turn these potential solutions into viable products or services.

To develop a potential solution you must first understand the challenge……

Monmouthshire is a semi-rural county in South East Wales with a population of around 93,000. We are blessed with diverse and beautiful surroundings, thriving towns and vast amounts of social capital. Yet the diversity of our landscape has it’s challenges. Loneliness has a significant impact on people’s health and well-being. There is a direct correlation between loneliness, our increasingly ageing population and the unravelling of our sense of community.

Reducing budgets in public services also means there is less money available to subsidise traditional transport services. This is a major issue in rural areas where journey times on public transport to a local services can exceed two hours. As a result residents are heavily dependent on private cars which is costly, both financially and environmentally exacerbating problems of loneliness and making it harder for young people to access training and employment.

The challenge we are setting has three parts:

  1. How can we use technology to improve our interaction with older people to reduce loneliness whilst alleviating digital exclusion?
  2. How can we co-ordinate transport more efficiently to increase peoples’ ability to travel in rural areas whilst reducing public subsidy?
  3. How do we better connect people in rural areas to improve well-being and reduce pressure on the health and social care systems whilst improving service efficiency?

We’re interested in hearing from companies who can develop solutions to one or more of these and welcome any proposals that looks to address a combination of these parts.

We will get an innovative, bespoke solution that tackles our challenge head on. You will receive funding for research and development and get to retain your intellectual property with a stamp of approval that will help your firm attract global interest helping you sell your product to others.

Our competition opens on 16th July and closes on 5th September 2018.  Applicants must register on the Innovation Funding Service at least a week ahead of the closing deadline in order to apply. We’ll be holding events where you can find out more about our challenge and more general information about the GovTech Catalyst so please keep an eye out for forthcoming announcements.

Useful links

Our PSB Wellbeing Plan

Our Wellbeing Assessment

Population Needs Assessment

Monmouthshire Rural Transport Study