London mayor Sadiq Khan has called on innovators to help support the capital’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and has enlisted partners to deliver on that vision as well as new grants for design-led ideas to address the problems that have emerged from the crisis.
The latest announcements are part of the plans for the £1m Resilience Fund, unveiled in December 2020 and now open to applications. The fund is aimed at supporting innovative businesses in technology and other sectors to respond to some of the key recovery challenges facing the capital.
The pool of partners which will work with the Mayor’s Office and applicants to help develop their ideas has also been announced. Better Bankside and Kings College London; Ealing Council, Groundwork London, Lambeth Council, and Hackney Wick and Fish Island Creative Enterprise Zone are the partners to the fund, as well as Thrive LDN, Hackney Council, the Royal Docks Team, and the Living Wage Foundation.
The fund is delivered in partnership with Nesta and is funded by the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP). In addition, the mayor has announced grants of up to £50,000 to develop design-led solutions to respond to the difficulties posed by Covid-19, as well as future challenges.
“The challenges we face as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic affect every area of our lives and the economy. 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,” Khan said.
“I’m doing all I can to support our creative businesses and organisations – so I’m calling on them to come forward with their ideas and take advantage of the funding and support on offer.”
Alongside the Greater London Authority, each of the partners working in the Resilience Fund are in charge of one of 10 challenges that London currently faces. These include diverting surplus food to community organisations, supporting high streets, and integrating Covid-19 data and travel information for Londoners.
In addition, the challenges the group will be tackling include making workspaces more flexible, affordable and responsive to the changing needs of businesses as a result of the pandemic. The challenges faced by approximately 4.7 million workers operating through the gig economy will also be considered by partners, as well as solutions to tackle the inequalities faced by those providing essential services during the crisis.
Alongside the fund, Khan launched Designing London’s Recovery, a design-led initiative to be delivered in partnership with the Design Council and the London Office for Technology and Innovation (LOTI) – and also funded by LEAP – which is intended to help organisations from a range of sectors.
Individuals and organisations will be asked to express their interest in the design initiative. Successful applicants will receive a share of £500,000, in addition to support from the Design Council to help them respond to three key challenges, to be announced in the coming weeks.
The plan, in which Khan also wants public bodies, charities, businesses, social enterprises and educational institutions to participate, is intended to harness the capital’s design talent to support the capital’s recovery from Covid-19, with particular focus given to vulnerable residents and those hardest hit by coronavirus.
Previous Design Council projects have included addressing the issues of violence in A&E departments, responding to the challenges of an ageing society and transforming economies to better reflect current, modern needs.