Mayor of London backs new wave of AI tools for poverty prevention

Seven technology start-ups are set to receive £50,000 each in funding to help prevent poverty in the city of London.  

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced the winners of the Poverty Prevention Challenge, whose innovations support Londoners at risk of falling into financial hardship and seek to reduce the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. 

The scheme is part of Challenge LDN, a collaboration between the Mayor and Barnet Council, which was launched in 2018 to encourage and fund new ways to ways to improve the city. It runs competitions between start-ups with the winners being awarded additional funding to seed their projects

The winning start-ups include: 

  • Mealia: an AI grocery assistant which creates personalised meal plans for households, reducing waste and preventing food insecurity.
  • Ltd: a Social Impact Bot, which runs a Refugee Next Step Guide. This uses AI and digital tools to provide language and digital literacy support to connect the refugee community with organisations that assist refugees. 
  • SuperFi Finance Ltd: who provide digital tools which allow residents to view and manage their finances in one place, and analyses their financial situation to provide personal debt prevention advice.  
  • Mortar Ltd: a data and intelligence framework that runs Rent Response. This tool provides a payment plan for renters in danger of having their houses repossessed. 
  • CAD-HR: The Centre for Advancement in Development and Human Rights provides free legal services to residents with a focus on the more vulnerable migrant community. In addition, they offer free management and administration services to charities who support these communities.
  • MatchingMind: matches individuals to a buddy through their platform to provide one to one support for the vulnerable. 
  • Time to Spare: facilitates information sharing between charities and councils by matching people supported by charities to council lists, providing better referral pathways for charity workers. 

Breaking down silos

Khan highlighted the importance of embracing new technology in tackling the cost of living crisis saying: “as a city we must continue to innovate and AI and new digital services have a real role to play in assisting that. 

“Supporting open calls to London's tech sector means we can apply new approaches to the challenges people face. By working this way we can break down silos, collaborate with new partners and build a better, safer, fairer and more prosperous London for everyone.”

Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London added: “Over the past five years setting open calls – or challenges – like this has allowed us to be bolder and work more collaboratively with London’s start-ups and scale-ups. Seeking and testing new ideas and learning from others, is an important part of London’s new way of working.”. 

Over £2.5 million has been invested into start-ups through the programme so far, resulting in over six hundred hours of support being provided. 

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