15 challenge prize moments of 2020 making our future brighter

  • Shae Harmon

    Shae Harmon

    Communications Manager

    View profile

21 Dec 2020


If you are reading this, it means you have almost graduated from 2020. A year where everyone held their breath (literally and figuratively) and waited to see how things were going to pan out. While there is still a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of work to be done, we can all be sure of one thing… it has not been easy.

That is why we are proud to bring you 15 important moments for challenge prizes in 2020 that are making our future brighter. Along with some amazing partners and innovators, we have launched, delivered and awarded an array of challenge prizes and competitions that we hope will make a big impact on all of our futures. This is not an exclusive list (for all of our news, head here), but highlights some of our current and ongoing work with innovators in the UK and beyond.

From assistive tech for people with lower limb paralysis to tools and services that improve access to jobs and money in the wake of COVID-19, from ideas on how to make cities climate-neutral to improving surgical training simulation in lower income settings, this year has been rich in innovative ideas and solutions that will make a difference. So strap in and enjoy.

15 moments of 2020

Shining a light on antibiotic resistance

15. The Longitude Prize launched an important study about antibiotic resistance and cancer

The study shines a light on UK oncologists’ worries about the rise of antibiotic resistance and what it means, in their eyes, for the effective care of their patients.

Creating a better personal lending market

14. The Affordable Credit Challenge winners were awarded

Three partnerships between community lenders and fintechs have secured a cash prize of £200,000 each for developing innovative solutions that make credit more accessible and affordable.

Helping to combat social isolation

13. System of support for isolated sexual assault survivors wins Tech to Connect Challenge

This challenge was launched to help civil society develop their early stage ideas for projects that combat social isolation by utilising technology to foster more or better interactions between people.

Helping make legal services accessible and affordable

12. Tech for domestic abuse survivors and those with social care needs awarded as winners

The Legal Access Challenge sought innovative digital tech solutions that directly help individuals and SMEs to better understand and resolve their legal problems.

Driving innovation in surgical training for low resource settings

11. Launch of the Global Surgical Training Challenge

This global challenge calls on innovators to develop surgical training modules that can be used in low-resource settings to help teach practitioners surgical procedures and techniques.

Practical solutions using artificial intelligence

10. An app designed by young people to help the elderly wins the Longitude Explorer Prize

The third Longitude Explorer Prize challenged young people (aged 11-16) to develop innovative, practical solutions using artificial intelligence. A smart watch app, a therapy dog, ocean clean-up tech were all runners up.

Helping with rapid economic recovery in the wake of COVID

9. 14 semi-finalists announced in online event for the Rapid Recovery Challenge

This £3m challenge seeks scaleable ways of giving vulnerable workers better access to jobs and financial help in the wake of COVID-19. We just announced who is going onto the next stage.

Tools to make open banking more accessible

8. Four money management apps crowned winners of Open Up 2020

Open Up 2020 was designed to encourage innovation to address some of the longstanding financial issues faced by society. The apps which have secured £150,000 grants to help reach more customers are…

Solutions empowering older adults

7. Innovative idea bringing young and older people together won the Smart Aging Prize

Three innovative ideas were identified as having the most potential to support older adults looking to re-engage with the world of work, particularly during the current uncertain economy.

Looking for the next generation of innovators

6. The Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize was launched

We are inviting young people across the UK to test, create and develop new technological solutions to the biggest issues of our time!

Aiming for climate-neutral cities

5. Climate Smart Cities Challenge is looking for ideas from cities

We hope to find the most important challenges to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and implement promising solutions in cities globally. Open call for ideas from cities closes 22 January 2021.

Re-imagining fast fashion

4. The 2020 European Social Innovation Competition winners were announced

The challenge sought to reward the most innovative approaches to reduce the overall environmental footprint and improve the societal impact of the fashion market.

Helping London thrive

3. Launched the Mayor's Resilience Fund to support innovation in London

We are working with the Mayor of London to develop a series of open innovation competitions based around specific challenges in London. Applications open in Feb 2021.

Improving water innovation

2. Planning water innovation for 2021

Nesta Challenges is working with Ofwat to deliver a series of water innovation competitions that aim to make sure that we can continue to take for granted high quality, clean water

Smart assistive tech

1. £4m winner of assistive technology prize announced

After this three year challenge, announced the winner of the Mobility Unlimited Challenge. This Challenge supported radical improvements in mobility and independence of people with lower-limb paralysis through smarter assistive tech.

Read our Great Innovation Report to see where we are headed.

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