Sadiq Khan turns to London startups to combat the capital’s problems

London may be one of the best places in the world for tech startups but, in comparison to Silicon Valley, it’s suffering.

To combat this discrepancy, the mayor’s office has launched the Civic Innovation Challenge. The project is aimed at increasing London’s technological prowess and combating some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges in the city. It’s the brainchild of London mayor Sadiq Khan, and is broken up into seven categories, each one corresponding with ongoing issues in the capital.

The seven areas Khan hopes to combat are dementia, active travel without cars, electric vehicles, affordable housing, financial inclusion for those on a low income, loneliness and isolation, and physical activity.

The current shortlist has been whittled down from over a hundred applicants to just fourteen tech firms. Now, these startups have been challenged with refining and developing their proposals to provide innovative solutions to these issues. So far these startups have offered up solutions that range from tech-heavy approaches to those with minimal technological influence.

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Later this year the fourteen firms will be reduced to seven, with each one designated to tackle an individual challenge. To help them create an innovative solution to the capital’s problems, each startup will be provided with £15,000 of government funding and a selection of corporate partners.

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“London’s tech community boasts some of the most dynamic and creative businesses and entrepreneurs anywhere in the world,” said Khan in a statement from the mayor’s office. “City Hall wants to bring that expertise, energy and vision to bear on some of the challenges our city faces – using technology for good, to help tackle problems like air pollution, loneliness, financial exclusion and access to affordable housing.

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“We want London to be the world’s smartest city – and harnessing the power of tech and data to tackle some of the most pressing problems facing Londoners in their daily lives in an important part of that.”

With so many cities competing for the title of “world’s smartest city” (read: San Francisco, Toronto, Singapore)  competition is tough. but with many issues being targeted by the mayor, it seems a good time to be a resident of the capital.

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