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Dowden announces five new successful GovTech Catalyst challenges

Five public sector projects will receive funding as part of the third round of the £20m GovTech Catalyst programme, says implementation minister

The government is to award funding to five more GovTech Catalyst challenges, aiming to tackle public sector issues across the country.

Speaking at the Government ICT conference, implementation minister Oliver Dowden, said that as part of the third round of the £20m GovTech Catalyst programme, five out of 17 submitted challenges have been successful.

They include Oxfordshire County Council’s challenge looking at how to manage autonomous vehicles in local traffic management control systems, and Scottish Natural Heritage examining how to better use and understand Scottish land protected for nature and conservation.

Other successful challenges in this round are Torfaen County Borough Council in Wales tackling how to better predict and sequence adult social care to deliver a seamless service, Leeds City Council looking at how to proactively monitor the conditions of social housing using sensors, and the London Borough of Waltham Forest working to accelerate the building of new housing by using better geospatial intelligence.

The GovTech Catalyst programme was first announced by prime minister Theresa May in November 2017 as a way of encouraging better use of technology in the public sector and connecting tech suppliers to potential customers in government.

Dowden said the programme "is an important initiative designed to promote innovation in the public sector". 

"The challenges I've announced today relate to important areas - from the future use of autonomous vehicles to the use of technology to improve social care. I look forward to seeing the solutions and continuing to promote the use of technology to improve people's lives," he said. 

This is the third round of the fund, which brings the total number of successful challenges to 15, the same number of challenges the government had said it expected to fund.

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Once a challenge has been selected, the next phase is to set up and run a competition where businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are invited to pitch heir ideas and solutions. The public sector organisation that has set the challenge will then pick the winner from a shortlist created by Innovate UK, before working with the successful supplier to build a prototype.

In December, the government announced the first five suppliers to win contracts, as part of round one, which covered digital solutions for transport and rural isolation.

In the first phase of the programme, each company will receive funding of up to £50,000 over 12 weeks to prove the feasibility of its ideas. Two companies will then be selected and given a further £500,000 over 12 months to develop their ideas further.

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