Vital public services will benefit from a fund launched today (15 November 2017) to incentivise Britain’s tech firms to come up with smart solutions to fix public sector problems.
A dedicated new GovTech Catalyst team will operate at the heart of government and oversee a new £20 million fund to help tech firms deliver innovative fixes to public sector challenges, which could include reducing traffic jams, freeing up teachers’ time and improving the experience of patients visiting their GP.
The team will boost productivity by helping public bodies – such as the NHS or local councils – identify challenges they face that could be solved by new digital technologies.
Tech firms bidding to the fund will have free reign to create truly innovative fixes. Those successful will receive funding to cover their research and development costs.
The new Catalyst team will act as a ‘front door’ to tech firms, giving them a clear access point where they can put forward their innovative ideas.
Once a finalised product is created, the public sector body can then choose to buy it from the tech company.
Not only will the public body receive an innovative, bespoke solution enabling them to tackle their challenge head on, but their stamp of approval will also help tech firms to attract global interest.
Using emerging technology in this way will boost Britain’s status as a world leader in digital innovation, and by removing barriers to productivity, will save time and reduce costs – helping to deliver outstanding public services for citizens.
Announcing this fund, Chancellor Philip Hammond said:
Britain is a world leader in digital innovation with some of the brightest and best tech-firms operating in this country. Working with us, they can provide technological fixes to public sector problems, boost productivity, and get the nation working smarter as we create an economy fit for the future.
The £20 million GovTech Fund will support delivery of the government’s Industrial Strategy by stimulating innovation in the economy, driving the development of the UK’s growing GovTech sector, and provide more opportunities for businesses to access public procurement opportunities.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said:
GovTech has the potential to transform public services through new innovative products and cutting-edge technologies that are both entrepreneurial and efficient.
Our investment in GovTech will help deliver a significant boost to this growing sector while delivering on our ambition set out in the Industrial Strategy of driving progress and innovation that will create opportunities for businesses and sectors across the UK.
President of techUK, Jacqueline de Rojas said:
Many tech business and entrepreneurs have great ideas that could revolutionise our public services but struggle to navigate their way through the public sector to get those concepts off the ground. The GovTech Catalyst scheme will create a ‘front door ’into the public sector for tech businesses with exciting new ideas and solutions that would otherwise get lost.
This is a great initiative that could help to drive better, more efficient user-led services for people across the county. techUK looks forward to working with the Catalyst team to help get more creative tech solutions into the public sector.
The GovTech Fund will support public bodies to meet the costs of issuing competitions to the tech market and supporting research and development on a match-funded basis. Further information about the funding arrangements will be available in due course.
The GovTech Fund will be made available from 2018-19 to 2020-21.