Tech giant Microsoft has joined forces with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Social Tech Trust to battle some of the largest challenges facing the UK capital.
Entitled “The Civic Innovation Challenge” the new initiative will work on a broad spectrum of issues including making freight effective, delivering affordable housing options and countering online violent extremism. It invites companies working in London’s technology sector to devise solutions to these problems and deliver both support and assistance to develop the ideas put forward.
An opportunity to develop social solutions
The programme was revealed by Khan at a recent event held at Microsoft’s Oxford Circus flagship store that opened this year. Chief Executive for Microsoft UK, Cindy Rose, welcomed the initiative’s aim to unite both private and public sectors to help and improve communities. She commented:
“We welcome the Civic Innovation Challenge as a way to introduce new technology companies to helping London and the millions of people who live and work here. Microsoft currently has a great team of people and partners working with communities in London, as well as the London Office of Technology and Innovation, Met Police and Transport for London.”
There are currently 40 available places in the Civic Innovation Challenge, out of which as many as three enterprises will be given £40,000 to develop and create their solutions. As well as funding, firms will benefit from product development and business support, along with training sessions and workshops.
Authorities and officials in support
Working alongside the programme participants will be the Greater London Authority, the Met Police, and Transport for London under the direction of Mayor Khan.
The Met Police, Greater London Authority and Transport for London will work alongside participants in the programme.
Chief Digital Officer for the Greater London Authority, Theo Blackwell stated:
“The Civic Innovation Challenge is a unique opportunity for tech companies to tackle some of the most pressing problems facing our capital. I would encourage London’s tech talent to put their creativity to the test and help solve these challenges.”
In 2018, the Civic Innovation Challenge united technology companies to work on solutions for charging electric vehicles, active travel, and support for those suffering from dementia, among other areas. Out of the 120 enterprises that completed applications, seven stand-out companies were selected, receiving £15,000 grants to assist the development of their ideas.
This is not the first project for which Microsoft has partnered up with the Social Tech Trust. The leading UK investor works with Microsoft’s cutting-edge technology on the Shoreditch-based AI for Good Start-up Accelerator. The program is currently assisting companies with a focus on societal challenges including environmental sustainability and accessibility using the very latest advances in Artificial Intelligence developed by Microsoft.
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