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WMCA backs four start-ups for digital projects


West Midlands Combined Authority provides funds for pilots aimed at dealing with public service issues

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WCA) is providing £80,000 for four projects developed by digital start-ups to deal with public service issues.

It has announced plans to provide £20,000 each, along with support for a three-month pilot, to the four winners of the Urban Challenge it has run with govtech venture company Public.

The winner of the housing challenge is DemoDev, a Birmingham based start-up that has developed a way to unlock land for affordable housing and will explore the idea of matching digital fabrication and a ‘smart’ supply chain in building homes.

Cardiff company Do-IT won the prize for dealing with youth unemployment, with a system to identify challenges and opportunities for young unemployed people and to provide targeted support and guidance.

A joint entry by London firms novoville and apptivism won the digital citizenship challenge with an app that enables people to comment on local issues and access a range of council services.

The wellbeing award went to Elemental Software from Derry for a project that aims to relieve the pressure on GPs by giving users the opportunity to improve their health by linking to non-medical support in their communities.

Scratching the surface

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “I believe we have only just started to scratch the surface of what can be achieved in terms of using technology to help improve public services which is why I was so keen to launch UrbanChallenge and throw down the gauntlet to the digital business community.

“I was quite amazed by the reaction with more than 120 entries from eight countries, each with new and exciting ways to tackle some of the social challenges we face in the West Midlands. The four winners are all exceptional examples of how we might harness technology quickly and effectively to make people’s lives better.”

Image: Birmingham from Centenary Square by Andy G, CC BY SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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