Come change local government!

“Digital is vital to the continued success of the West Midlands economy because it is the golden thread across all the industries which will provide jobs in the twenty-first century.”


Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands

Presented by

What is Urban Challenge

Urban Challenge is an open call competition for technology startups to develop new ideas to make the West Midlands a better place to live and work by pitching directly to the Mayor and the chance to work directly with officials from the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Startups will win a prize package worth over £20,000 plus a guaranteed three-month pilot with the West Midlands Combined Authority, and support by Public in developing the proposition, pitch and sales strategy.

The challenges

Four separate challenges that startups can apply to

Each challenge represents both an area where UrbanTech can play a crucial role and also where the West Midlands Combined Authority has identified a critical challenge.



What innovative ways are there to improve health and wellbeing outcomes using digital technology?


How can we better support people who need it most through better connectivity, personalisation and self-directed support?


How can we use digital platforms to support better mental health and wellbeing across the region?



A third of children in Birmingham are classed as living in poverty, and infant mortality is amongst the highest in England in areas of the Black Country. For adults, levels of heart disease and diabetes are above the England average and in areas such as Solihull – with an older population – levels of heart disease, stroke and dementia present significant challenges.


The potential of digital transformation in health and wellbeing is huge both in different ways of engaging with our citizens and in novel models of care and self-care. How can we support citizens in the West Midlands to be at the forefront?



Which new technologies can speed up the process of building high quality homes and connected attractive places?


How can smart in-home technology be used to reduce energy, improve social care and improve quality of life?


How can they deliver economic opportunities for West Midlands businesses and the supply chain?



The West Midlands will, in the coming years, receive £5.2 billion of investment into new transport infrastructure through an upgrade to the motorways, faster north-south rail connections and east-west links, as well as the arrival of HS2. This will improve land values and create new opportunities for development and Regeneration.


The region also needs to deliver more homes, and ensure they are close to jobs and economic opportunities in places that people will want to live and work.



What innovative technologies are there to support young people to better understand local job, training and entrepreneurship opportunities?


How can we ensure disadvantaged communities share in the job creation that is occurring in the region?


What can digital technology do to help our region’s businesses to identify the skills needs of the future?



Youth unemployment is a major challenge in the West Midlands with over 13,000 young people claiming unemployment benefits.


Whilst job creation across the West Midland region is relatively strong, these opportunities are not necessarily accessible to all.


A spell of youth unemployment can reduce a person’s life long earnings and career potential, as well as exacerbating inequalities between different groups. The financial costs of supporting unemployment – including welfare, medical support and lost productivity – run into the billions.



How can digital technology be used to drive improved communication with citizens?


How can smart deployment of data drive transparency around progress towards key regional priorities?


How can customer service and the visibility of local services be improved by tech firms delivering solutions in other sectors?



Citizens expect communications from and to authorities to be mobile, and real time. They want to be able to engage decision-makers, politicians and their communities using all the new tools they use in their daily lives.


Citizens will also increasingly demand visibility and transparency over progress on key mayoral and regional priorities. But most of these tools are not in place for governments to respond to this need, despite the crucial nature of citizen-public interactions.


Any new technologies to help governments become more responsive and transparent will be imperative to implement, in order to adjust to these societal changes.

The prize

(for each challenge winner)

(cash + AWS credits) and a three-month pilot with West Midlands

and support from


The West Midlands Combined Authority and PUBLIC

Winning startups will also receive

  • Weekly access to WMCA and its data throughout the pilot
  • Mentoring and support led by Public
  • Access to top tier investors to raise further capital
  • Monthly meetings with the Mayor of the West Midlands
  • Working space in the Mayor’s office for the duration of the pilot
  • AWS credits, training, and support through AWS Activate

Selection panel

Meet the mayor and top UK investors

  • Andy Street
      Andy StreetMayor of the West Midlands
    • Alexander de Carvalho
        Alexander de CarvalhoCo-founder, Public
      • Suzanne Ashman
          Suzanne AshmanPartner, LocalGlobe
        • Jeff Lynn
            Jeff LynnExecutive Chairman & Co-Founder, Seedrs
          • Christian Hernandez
              Christian HernandezCo-founder & Managing Partner, White Star Capital

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