Tech to Connect Challenge

Looking to find ways that tech can tackle social isolation and loneliness

What was the Tech to Connect Challenge?

The Tech to Connect Challenge was looking to help civil society develop their early stage ideas for tech that enables more or better interactions between people. Tech can be alienating or divisive for those that are isolated, so we wanted to help civil society translate their knowledge into good ideas for new ways to connect people. The Challenge was funded by DCMS and delivered by Nesta Challenges with support from the Developer Society.

Why did we run the Challenge?

Social isolation is measured by the strength of a person’s social connections, and therefore the lack of these connections denotes social isolation. It’s distinct from loneliness, which is a “subjective, unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship”. In an age of social media, there has never been more technology that connects us with one another. Though we think there’s space for technology to do more. That’s why we wanted to support civil society organisation – England’s charities, social enterprises and social ventures – who were working on new ideas of tech for good. The Tech To Connect Challenge gave these organisations the resources they needed to bring their innovative ideas to life.

Tech to Connect final report

In 2016 to 2017...

5% of UK adults reported feeling lonely “often” or “always”. Loneliness is a “subjective, unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship”

Social isolation is...

the state of being deprived of social relationships that provide positive feedback and are meaningful to the individual

UK figures show that...

socially isolated people are 3.5 times more likely to enter local authority funded residential care

The winner of the Tech to Connect Challenge

The winner of the Tech to Connect Challenge, which was launched to support projects tackling social isolation through the use of technology, was announced on 19 March 2020.

The winner of the Tech to Connect Challenge was

YANA: You Are Not Alone

YANA is an online web platform created by the community interest company Chayn, and provides a safe space for people to access details of local shelters, sexual violence units, lawyers and therapists, to build a more connected system of support for sexual assault survivors suffering from isolation. As Winner of the Challenge, YANA received a £100,000 prize.

The runners up were:

Mirthy and the Chatty Cafe Scheme

Mirthy is a web platform to enable older adults to stay active whilst remaining independent at home, by connecting under-utilised communal spaces in retirement housing schemes with those people looking for social clubs.

The Chatty Cafe Scheme reduces loneliness and gets people talking by encouraging venues to designate a Chatter & Natter table, via their web application. Chatty Cafe already has partnerships with Costa and Sainsburys, and 73 other venues have joined through the website since January 2020.

As Runners Up of the Challenge, both Mirthy and the Chatty Cafe Scheme received £75,000 prizes.

The winner of the Pargiter Trust Grant was:

Music Memory Box

An additional grant of £25,000 from The Pargiter Trust was awarded to Music Memory Box, an innovative kit to support and connect people with dementia and their loved ones. It combines sensors, sentimental objects and photographs to link to songs, helping to unlock and recall memories in a simple and tactile way.

News on the Challenge

The Tech to Connect Challenge: Impact and Insight

A guest blog post by Kate Shurety, Tech to Connect Judge and Executive Director, Campaign to End Loneliness.

Tech to Connect Challenge: Finalist Showcase

The Tech to Connect Challenge was designed to help civil society develop their early stage ideas for tech that enables more or better interactions between people.

Challenge timeline (scroll to the right)

17 June 2019

Applications opened

7 Aug 2019

Applications closed

19 March 2020

Finalists announced

19 March 2020

Winner announced

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