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Rural Services Network

Tech funding to help combat rural isolation

Organisations are being invited to apply for a share of up to £250,000 to develop technologies that combat rural isolation.

The GovTech Catalyst initiative from Innovate UK aims to support isolated people in rural communities through digital technologies and transport solutions.

It is seeking to invest the money in projects that combat digital exclusion and a lack of access to transport in rural communities in South Wales.

Monmouthshire County Council is home to 92,800 people, with isolation and loneliness having a significant impact on wellbeing.

The first phase will fund a series of feasibility studies to connect isolated people, transform public services and support transport opportunities.

The initiative is being run under the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) and the best ideas could share up to £1m to develop them further.

The competition is calling for low cost, co-designed, user-friendly technology that tackle social isolation.

Projects should address three main challenges:

  • how to use technology to reduce loneliness for older people who are currently digitally excluded
  • how to co-ordinate transport to improve the ability to travel while reducing public subsidy
  • how to better connect people in rural areas to improve wellbeing, reduce pressure on health and social care and improve efficiency of services

Priority groups for projects include:

  • older adults
  • people with disabilities
  • volunteers with a desire to help those in need in the community
  • young people trying to access work

The suggested solution must be suitable for everyone.

The competition opens on 16 July 2018, and the deadline for registration is at midday on 29 August 2018.

Any organisation that can demonstrate a route to market for its idea can apply for funding.

The government says it expects phase 1 contracts to be worth up to £50,000 and to last up to three months.

It says it expects phase 2 contracts to be worth up to £500,000 with successful projects attracting 100% funded development contracts.

For full details, visit the competition webpage here.

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