PUBLIC has launched GovStart 2020 – our growth programme helping startups transform the public sector.

You will have heard many times from government leaders that the current crisis – with its all-encompassing impact on people’s lives and on our societies – has profoundly shaken up our systems and processes, creating new opportunities for change and positive impact.

“What previously would have taken months, during COVID-19 became possible in just one day” is what the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said during a recent keynote address. The adoption of new processes and new  technologies in many areas of our lives – from healthcare to mobility to education – has been accelerated at an unprecedented speed in the last few months. At PUBLIC we have been dazzled by the effort of many startups to do their part in the fight against COVID-19, powering secure and sophisticated new technologies to solve complex new challenges.

During the peak of the pandemic, we were commissioned by NHSX to find the best technologies that could help healthcare professionals and informal carers look after the most vulnerable segments of the society that were isolating at home. As a result, we heard from nearly two thousand technology companies providing solutions such as remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients through wearables, sensors and tele-health, digital solutions to support mild mental health conditions, and platforms to coordinate the volunteering response to ensure that those isolating could get essential goods delivered to their homes.

A number of GovStart alumni stood out during these difficult months. The social care company Cera was enlisted by the UK government to operate a nationwide recruitment solution for carers, helping people that are currently unemployed or furloughed back into work. Pando became the most used messaging service for medical professionals in the UK to safely exchange key information on their current clinical cases. The recruitment company Patchwork launched the London COVID-19 digital staff bank, encompassing thousands of medical professionals to fill critical vacant shifts.

It would be short-sighted not to acknowledge that the economic effects of the pandemic have hit the startup ecosystem hard, forcing organisations to completely rethink their models and often to downsize and take a step back in their path to growth. But, now more than ever, we need the dynamism and fresh culture, as well as the ability to bring about positive change and to create new jobs that are distinctive of startups. That’s why we have decided to be on hand to founders that want to make a difference in any area of the public sector in the next year, through our growth programme GovStart starting in October in London and Berlin.

GovStart is the right platform for GovTech companies to grow and scale. So far, we have worked with 36 companies from Pre-Seed to Series C across UK, France and Germany, helping them close £16m in government contracts and raise 53m in investment. For the next cycle, despite being open to work with any solution applicable to the public sector, we are particularly interested in: 

> Solutions for remote healthcare monitoring and self management of COVID-19 and long term health conditions. We want to work with healthtech companies that enable health workers to monitor patients affected by complex conditions while adhering to social distancing measures and that empower users to be in control of their own healthcare, with the ultimate goal to reduce unnecessary A&E and hospital attendance.

> Digital interventions to support young people and adults’ mental health. There is a huge unmet demand for mental health services, which is growing during the pandemic. We want to back solutions that provide access to or deliver personalised mental health services at scale, particularly at a time when people are struggling to access their counselling services as usual.

> Training and coaching for the jobs and workforce of the future. We are looking for digital solutions that can help people that have lost their jobs or have been furloughed because of COVID-19, to get ready for their next employment opportunity by developing key skills that employees will require in a digital and fast changing world.

> Data solutions for safer and smarter transport networks. The pandemic has posed a set of new mobility challenges and has changed the way people can access public transports. We are looking for solutions like data analytics and visualisation tools to aid public sector authorities plan for and implement smart transport networks for a socially distanced society.

> Smart solutions for safer and better prisons. COVID-19 has shed a light on how prisons are often inadequately equipped to deal with emergency situations like the one we are currently experiencing.  We are on the hunt for companies providing prison staff with tools for better internal operations, from communication to case management, as well as for digital solutions that can improve offender rehabilitation.

Applications are open until August 24th. Apply now. Let’s transform public services together.