Public Services > Central Government

Government to launch £20m public sector ‘GovTech’ fund

David Bicknell Published 15 November 2017

Dedicated ‘GovTech’ Catalyst team and fund being created to encourage tech firms to deliver innovative fixes to public sector challenges

 

The Government has created a dedicated ‘GovTech’ Catalyst team and associated £20m fund intended to incentivise the UK’s tech firms to come up with smart solutions to fix public sector problems.

The team is expected to operate at the heart of government and work to solve typical public sector problems such as reducing traffic jams, freeing up teachers’ time and improving the experience of patients visiting their GP.

The £20m GovTech Fund, which will be made available from 2018-19 to 2020-21, is intended to 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.

The team is expected to aim to boost productivity by helping public bodies – such as the NHS or local councils – identify challenges that could be solved by new digital technologies.

Tech firms bidding to the fund will have free reign to create innovative fixes, with those that are  successful receiving 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. It is believed that the Government Digital Service (GDS) may have a role in the programme’s development and running, while GovTech organisation Public is understood to have advocated the need for the 'single front door' and a 'pump-priming fund' on behalf of the companies it works with.

Alexander de Carvalho, co-founder and chief investment officer of Public said, "Public has been arguing for a new GovTech Fund to give officials much-needed support to take risks on new technologies - and we're delighted to see today's announcement. At Public we back and build the companies that are going to transform public services. Today's announcement will entice more innovators to join us on our mission." 

Once a finalised product is created, the public sector body can then choose to buy it from the tech company. The government said that not only will the public body receive an” innovative, bespoke solution enabling them to tackle their challenge head on, their stamp of approval will also help tech firms to attract global interest.”

Announcing the £20m 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.

Business Secretary Greg Clark added, “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.”

 








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