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Monmouthshire stages rural isolation GovTech challenge

25/07/18

Monmouthshire County Council has launched a competition for tech businesses to come up with digital solutions to dealing with some of the issues around rural isolation.

Lone house in countrysideIt has received £1.25 million from the GovTech Catalyst to run its own Monmouthshire GovTech Challenge, which is now open for entries until 5 September.

The move comes as the GovTech Catalyst, set up by the Cabinet Office last year to promote the development of new technologies for public services, has pointed to the council’s initiative in launching a wider competition to combat rural isolation throughout Wales.

Cabinet member for social justice Councillor Sara Jones said: “I hope this event creates avenues for businesses to come along and find out more. We are looking for inspiring companies to come forward with pioneering solutions to alleviate some of the pressures affecting our most vulnerable communities.”

Loneliness problems

Monmouthshire is semi-rural with a population of around 93,000 and the council has identified isolation as having a significant impact on people’s health and wellbeing. The reduction in budgets to subsidise traditional transport services has intensified the problems of loneliness and made it harder for young people to obtain training and employment.

The council has identified three parts to the challenge:

  • Using technology to improve interaction with older people whilst alleviating digital exclusion.
  • Co-ordinating transport more efficiently.
  • Better connecting people in rural areas to improve wellbeing, reduce pressure on the health and social care system and improve service efficiency.

It said that five projects will be selected to receive up to £50,000 each for research and development, then the best one or two could be awarded up to £500,000 to create viable products or services.

Image by Row 17, CC BY 2.0

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