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London launches new tech initiative in effort to become world’s ‘smartest’ city

The Mayor of London has once again reiterated his desire to make the UK capital the 'smartest' city in the world by launching a new innovative tech entrepreneur program.

The new initiative which has been entitled the Civic Innovation Challenge (CIC) is a program that has been specifically created in order to match start-ups with SMEs with leading corporates and public organizations in an effort to address some of London's biggest social issues.

Fourteen tech start-ups have been shortlisted following a nationwide competition and they've been tasked with the responsibility to develop new innovative solutions and ideas to solve the UK capital's most pressing social and environmental problems such as housing, dementia and isolation.

The new program was announced in June as part of London Mayor Sadi Khan's overall digital transformation roadmap and blueprint for the city which was called 'Smarter London Together' - which outlines how he plans to execute his ambition for London to become the world's leading smart city.

Proposals from more than 100 applicants were whittled down to 14 companies after an intense review process - which will now be further developed in response to the seven challenges set out by the mayor.

Later this year, the final seven - one for each challenge - will each be awarded £15,000 to jointly test and refine their ideas with a group of corporate partners.

The seven challenges are:

  • Dementia: ensuring dementia care works for all
  • Active travel: reducing pollution and unnecessary car journeys
  • Electric vehicles: preparing London for zero-emission transport
  • Affordable housing: ensuring genuinely affordable housing is available for all
  • Financial inclusion: helping families struggling on low incomes
  • Loneliness and isolation: making London the most socially-integrated city in the world
  • Physical activity: making London the most physically active city in the world.

The Mayor has gathered a diverse range of partners, along with delivery partner Bethnal Green Ventures, to offer the companies valuable mentoring and support as they develop their solutions, include: Transport for London, National Grid, Shell, Lloyds Banking Group, the London boroughs of Hackney and Ealing - and a group of London NHS trusts.

"London's tech community boasts some of the most dynamic and creative businesses and entrepreneurs anywhere in the world," said Khan.

"City Hall wants to bring that expertise, energy and vision to bear on some of the challenges our city faces - using technology for good, to help tackle problems like air pollution, loneliness, financial exclusion and access to affordable housing.

He continued: "We want London to be the world's smartest city - and harnessing the power of tech and data to tackle some of the most pressing problems facing Londoners in their daily lives in an important part of that."

"We were overwhelmed by the quality of start-ups that responded to the mayor's call to solve some of London's major challenges," added Jessica Stacey, partner at Bethnal Green Ventures.

"We're looking forward to working closely with the finalists over the next month as they get ready to develop and test their innovative solutions."