The GovTech Catalyst has turned its attention to the issue of rural isolation, with a plan to invest up to £250,000 in projects to combat digital exclusion and a lack of access to transport in rural communities in South Wales.
The programme, which was set up by the Cabinet Office last year as part of a £20 million initiative to support the development of new technologies in public services, has invited applications on ideas for shares of a £1 million pot.
It has already indicated support for a project being run by Monmouthshire County Council to develop digital innovations that could connect isolated people in the area.
Three main challenges have been identified for the programme:
- How to use technology to reduce loneliness for older people who are currently digitally excluded.
- How to co-ordinate transport to improve the ability to travel while reducing public subsidy.
- How to better connect people in rural areas to improve wellbeing, reduce pressure on health and social care and improve efficiency of services.
Priority groups for projects include older adults, people with disabilities, volunteers with a desire to help those in need in the community and young people trying to access work. Suggested solutions must be suitable for everyone.
The first phase of the new programme will fund a series of feasibility studies, at up £50,00 each over three months. Some will then be chosen for the second phase of developing them further.
The competition is being run under the Small Business Research Initiative, which is aimed at supporting ideas for solutions to government challenges.
Image by Craig Freeman, CC BY 2.0 through flickr