As lockdown eases, top innovators selected to be part of Mayor’s solution for London’s recovery


As London moves into the next phase of re-opening, 36 of London’s best innovators have been selected by the Mayor of London and Nesta Challenges to play a major role in the city’s recovery from Covid-19.

Sadiq Khan’s £1m Resilience Fund, delivered in partnership with Nesta Challenges, asked a panel of elite judges* to choose innovative businesses that could find creative solutions to the issues caused by the pandemic, such as regenerating high-streets, creating new work spaces and improving air quality.

36 top tech start-ups were chosen. Each innovator will work with a Resilience Partner – such as a local authority, public agency or charity in London – to create new ways of bolstering the city’s resilience and drive for growth.

Key challenges faced and examples of innovators include:

Activating High Streets: Working together with Ealing council, innovators Whythawk will build on an existing platform that uses open data on rental valuations, local authority ratepayers and employment and vacancies, to increase opportunities for employees and landlords and reduce vacancy rates.

Affordable Workspaces: Lyn Atelier, an architecture, exhibition and theatre design practice will be working in Hackney Wick to design a specialised online platform that will allow small businesses to fit their spaces with recycled furniture. By automating the design process and offering a carefully chosen palette of sustainable material and products, it will then decrease the amount of infrastructure required and the time associated with installing it.

Improving Air Quality: Partners in Lambeth highlighted this is a significant challenge in the borough. BlockDox, a data-science SME, aims to create Healthy Air Quality Impacts in Lambeth (HEAL), which will provide state of the art modelling capability integrating outdoor air quality data with geopositioning data of vulnerable groups within Lambeth, and visualising that data in a dashboard interface, to help the borough analyse and make adjustments to improve air quality in the area.

Covid-Safe Travel: With more Londoners taking to public transport, innovators are developing tools using transport and health data to help get people back onto trains and buses in a timely, safe way. JNCTION is creating a door-to-door journey planner and companion app which empowers people to travel confidently when using public transport.

Improving bereavement services: With so many communities from different backgrounds experiencing losses during Covid-19, a special challenge has been created by Thrive LDN focusing on the communication and support of those who have suffered bereavement in ethnic minorities. Loss in Translation is a peer-led grief activism project by Apart of Me, empowering young people to transform their grief into compassion.

Supporting the gig economy: Being so integral to the life of London during the pandemic, gig economy workers will be given greater tools to understand their pay, cross-reference the best opportunities around and learn from data insights about their roles and the economy as a whole. This is part of the offering from one of the tech innovators, Workerbird, who will work with the Living Wage Foundation to empower gig economy workers with their own data.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “We must all work together to build a brighter, greener and more equal future for London after the pandemic. I’m confident these dynamic start-ups and their partners will develop creative solutions to support London’s recovery and help our city remain resilient for years to come.”

The partners, which will work closely with his team to help applicants develop their ideas, include: Better Bankside BID, Ealing Council, Groundwork London, Lambeth Council, Hackney Wick and Fish Island Creative Enterprise Zone, Thrive LDN, Hackney Council, the Royal Docks Team, and the Living Wage Foundation.