City news: London calling on ‘innovators’ to overcome Covid challenges

2 March 2021

Faced with an array of challenges brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, London, in partnership with nine charities and local authorities, will offer grants to businesses and individuals that can come up with innovative solutions for the city’s recovery.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced that nine partners will work together with the Greater London Authority (GLA) to help applicants develop solutions tackle 10 challenges with the help of a £1 million (€1.16 million) ‘Resilience Fund’.

The issues will be familiar to many cities after a year of Covid-19 and include diverting surplus food to community organisations helping those most in need, supporting high streets, integrating the latest Covid-19 data and travel information for Londoners, and making workspaces more flexible, affordable and responsive to the changing needs of businesses as a result of the pandemic.

Better Bankside and Kings College London; 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 will all oversee one challenge, along with the GLA.

The fund is delivered in partnership with innovation charity Nesta and funded by the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) and will offer grants of £50,000 (€58,000) for applicants with innovative solutions for London’s recovery.

“The challenges we face as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic affect every area of our lives and the economy,” said Mayor Khan. “But I know our city is home to a wealth of innovation – and so I have no doubt that many of the solutions we need to drive our recovery will come from right here in the capital.”

The British capital’s mayor is also calling on public bodies, charities, businesses, social enterprises and educational institutions to take part in Designing London’s Recovery, an initiative that will tap into London’s wealth of design talent for contributions to the recovery process.

The scheme – also funded by LEAP – will focus on Londoners’ needs, particularly those who are vulnerable and have been hardest hit by the crisis. Successful applicants will receive a share of £500,000 (€580,000) and support from the Design Council, a charity focusing on inclusive design to improve lives.

“This has been a very dark and difficult period for our city and I hope that these funds will bring together the capital’s talent and help build a more resilient city,” added the Mayor.

The GLA has an ambitious recovery plan for London, which includes a Green New Deal for the city and support to hard-hit youth.

Mayor Khan has previously called on the UK government to devolve more power to the city administration to give London the tools to make this recovery possible.