Nesta Challenges is inviting applications from charities, social enterprises and social ventures in England to its Tech to Connect Challenge, which offers £1 million to help civil society organisations to develop tech-based solutions to reduce social isolation.
Funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the fund consists of:
- £500,000 worth of business support from Nesta Challenges
- and £500,000 in grant funding.
Let’s Talk Loneliness
DCMS’ support for the prize is part of its new ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ campaign, recently launched by Loneliness Minister Mims Davies as part of Loneliness Awareness Week, to help tackle the stigma of loneliness and encourage people to speak out.
The prize aims to attract a wide range of innovative solutions to support people suffering from isolation; from young people to new parents, carers and the recently bereaved; from students starting university to older people and those with disabilities; and from those moving to a new area of the country to refugees.
DCMS is funding the prize to deliver against commitments made in the government’s Loneliness Strategy and Civil Society Strategy.
Impact of loneliness
Numerous studies have shown the prevalence and negative impacts of loneliness and social isolation:
- According to the Office for National Statistics (2018) more than one in five people in the UK feel lonely at least some of the time
- 75% of young people aged 18 – 24 are most likely to say they have felt lonely (according to YouGov plc, 17-20 May, online survey of 2,114 adults, weighted and representantive of all UK adults aged 18+)
Tris Dyson, Executive Director of Nesta Challenges, said:
“Social isolation is a major public health concern affecting people of any background, age or location. We know that a wide range of civil society organisations already have great ideas to combat social isolation, but they are often constrained by a lack of funding or resources. By offering tailored guidance and funding to help scale the most impactful solutions, we will help to build more connected communities.”
“Often the simplest solutions are the most impactful, and we’re encouraging organisations from across the board to submit their ideas through our short submission form. Whether it’s an idea in its early stages or an operational concept that needs scaling up, we want to hear about your tech-based solutions.”
To help change this, Nesta Challenges will provide guided support to seven finalists, so that they can develop their ideas into working prototypes and plan for their implementation.
One winner and two runner ups will be selected to receive cash prizes to continue their plans, whether that is attracting new investment, more user testing, or a market campaign to launch the product/service.
Loneliness Minister Mims Davies said:
“Loneliness is one of the biggest public health challenges our country faces. It can affect anyone of any age, at any time, and its health impact is in line with smoking or obesity. We need to do all we can to help people build new and lasting social connections and technology has a positive role to play in this. The ‘Tech To Connect’ Challenge will no doubt inspire new innovative ideas to help tackle loneliness and leave people feeling less isolated.”
How to apply
Submissions to the Tech to Connect prize open on Wednesday 26 June, and entries close on Wednesday 7 August 2019.