Nesta, the innovation foundation, is launching the £2.8 million Rapid Recovery Challenge to find and support tools and solutions that improve access to jobs and money for people across the UK.
In partnership with the Money and Pensions Service and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the 12-month Challenge will focus on supporting workers hit hardest by the economic shock of COVID-19.
To mark the launch of the Rapid Recovery Challenge, Nesta conducted research to reveal how COVID-19 is impacting those in low paid work, younger workers and those in insecure roles, such as gig workers or those on temporary contracts. The research found that, since the pandemic started, vulnerable workers in these groups are twice as likely to be working fewer hours compared to people in more stable work (26% compared to 13%) and nearly a third (32%) say a second lockdown would send them over the edge financially.
Nesta is looking to fintechs, charities and other organisations to enter their solutions that address the challenges faced by these workers. Fintechs could win up to £475,000 by entering the Challenge’s Financial Recovery Stream which focuses on financial resilience. The stream will identify the most promising solutions and back those that have the greatest potential in helping people access financial assistance more easily, manage their cash flow, or, where necessary, access affordable and responsible credit.
Ravi Gurumurthy, Chief Executive of Nesta, said: “COVID-19 has created a huge economic shock. Millions face severe threats to their job security and household finances, and we know that low-paid workers, people in insecure roles and those under 25 will be hit hardest. I’m looking forward to seeing the range of solutions innovators develop to address these issues and support those whose jobs and finances have been most impacted by the pandemic.”
Caroline Siarkiewicz, CEO of the Money and Pensions Service said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the money worries many people face, but particularly for young people and workers on lower incomes. It’s vital that those worst hit can now access the right support and start to find a way forward with their finances.
“We’re pleased to help fund this initiative, which supports the decade-long goals set out in our UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing to enable everyone – including those in vulnerable circumstances - to make the most of their money and pensions.”
Hang Ho, Head of Global Philanthropy for EMEA and LATAM, JPMorgan, said: “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt most keenly by those already in precarious economic positions, many of whom have already lost their jobs or have little or no financial buffer to weather the crisis. As the fight against this disease and its impact continues it is imperative that these people not be left behind and are supported to improve their career prospects and financial resilience. We are excited to work with Nesta to support the most impactful approaches to grow, reach more people and tackle these prescient issues.”
The Rapid Recovery Challenge will support innovators to develop and scale solutions through financial grants and non-financial support such as help with product and service design, and access to a wider support network of organisations. Entries are now open, closing on 26 October 2020. Two winning projects will be announced at the end of the programme in September 2021.
Solutions submitted to the Rapid Recovery Challenge must already exist – at least in prototype form – and must have been piloted with a minimum of 1,000 users.