Nesta Challenge opens £1m fund for charities using tech to address social isolation

Nesta Challenges has launched a £1m fund aimed at charities and social enterprises wanting to develop tech-based solutions to social isolation. 

Submissions to the Tech to Connect Challenge opened today today and entries are accepted until 7 August.

The £1m prize consists of £500,000 in grant funding from the Department for Digital, Media and Sport and £500,000 in business support from Nesta Challenges toward developing prototypes and implementation plans for the winning idea.

The challenge is part of the DCMS Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign launched last week. 

Tech ideas to combat social isolation

Tris Dyson, executive director of Nesta Challenges said: “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.”

The challenge 

Challenge applicants will explain a problem within social isolation and provide an idea for a technological solution.

Seven finalists will come out of the initial assessment and follow a programme of guided support over five months.

They will conduct user research, design a prototype and implementation plan and then develop a working prototype.

There will be one winner and two runner ups.

Technology has a positive role

Mims Davies, minister for civil society, 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.”