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London tech startups shortlisted for mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge

Eight London startups will receive funding from the mayor to help democratise urban planning and combat violent extremism online

Eight innovative technology startups have been shortlisted for mayoral funding to help tackle some of London’s most pressing challenges.

More than 125 startups applied for this year’s Civic Innovation Challenge (CIC), which was launched by London mayor Sadiq Khan in June 2018 to spur innovation from the tech sector.

The CIC is part of Khan’s effort to position the capital as one of the world’s leading “smart cities”.

“I’m really impressed with the calibre of entrants this year and the standard of competition means I’m sure we’ll see some really exciting projects taken to the next level,” said Theo Blackwell, London’s chief digital officer. “In important areas such as planning and countering extremism online, it is only through the public and private sector working together that we will come up with the best ideas we need for the future.”

Half of the startups will be focused on making London’s planning systems more accessible. LandHawk, for example, aims to help developers identify land that positively impacts the environment and enhances communities, while The Future Fox will provide a platform to help urban planners work with communities on ambitious local schemes.

The other half of the startups will work to counter violent extremism online. They include Raven Science, which is developing machine learning software to find, classify and analyse extremist videos online.

The government is currently working on an Online Harms Regulation to ensure internet users are protected from harmful or illegal content, such as child abuse images or terrorist activity, and is set to make Ofcom the regulator.

The CIC is being delivered in partnership with Microsoft and the Social Tech Trust, and will see the startups work directly with “Challenge Partners” City Hall and the Metropolitan Police Service.

On top of this, a further 20 companies will work with Transport for London (TfL) and pitch their ideas to the Mayor’s Office of Los Angeles – one of London’s “Innovator Cities” partners – to try to secure funding and support in developing their ideas.

Six other companies will be selected from a separate shortlist of 20 to work with TfL, and will receive £20,000 each to work on tackling road congestion.

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The eight CIC startups are now working towards a demo day in March 2020, which a select crowd of investors, media and buyers will attend, and where the winner of the CIC will be announced.

From there, the winner will work closely with its Challenge Partner for two months to test, validate and roll out its solution. It will also receive £40,000 to support the project’s delivery.

In the first round of the CIC from October 2018, eight companies were each awarded £15,000 to develop technical solutions to a range of London’s problems.

The companies worked on seven challenges, ranging from active travel and electric cars to affordable housing and dementia services.

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