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Blog by Cllr. Steve Curran: London Ventures

By Cllr. Steve Curran - July 2018

When I learned about London Ventures, I was immediately struck by the breadth of its work. Born out of a desire to extend the benefits of the Capital Ambition Fund beyond its original term, the programme’s goal is to improve local authorities’ services by encouraging innovation across London’s local government, bringing private and third sector ideas to the public sector.

London Councils has worked successfully with EY to cultivate a portfolio of seven Venture Partners and a further five Affiliate Partners. These cover innovation in areas as diverse as robotic process automation, advanced analytics, and contract management software all the way through to crowd-sourcing platforms and training for foster carers augmented by virtual reality technology.

While London Ventures offers a point of contact for local authorities to find market ready solutions to their challenges, the programme actively works to explore the most pressing issues facing local government. Through its ‘Targeted Ventures’ work, the programme has worked with local authorities, the private sector, and third sector organisations to identify and address the severe challenges around housing, homelessness and temporary accommodation.

Following consultation with dozens of organisations and a hackathon generating over a hundred ideas, the Capital Ambition Board approved four of the most promising projects to take forward:

  • predictive analytics for the early identification of those at risk of homelessness;
  • modular temporary accommodation on non-permanent sites (PLACE);
  • a pan-London Property Listing Platform of all available temporary accommodation in the capital; and
  • an insurance product to replace large cash deposits to secure rental tenancies (Transition Insurance).

These projects are all moving along at pace – for example, the formal procurement for PLACE, led by Tower Hamlets, launched on 25 July with £11m of grant funding from the GLA to allow for the purchasing of 200 units for modular housing while Southwark is undertaking a 3-month pilot of Transition Insurance to provide the proof of concept prior to potential wider adoption.

Not stopping there, the next cycle of targeted ventures, this time focusing on issues related to children and families (another critical issue for local authorities) is working across five broad thematic areas: early help/intervention; the cost of placing children into care; gang and young violence; Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and the complexity of needs; and care leavers.

On 21 June, over 60 passionate individuals got together for London Ventures’ ‘ideas’ hackathon to answer ‘problem statements’ cutting across the five themes to propose innovative approaches that can have the greatest impact.

I am looking forward to driving innovation across the capital through the London Ventures programme to address these critical issues to contribute to delivering better services for Londoners.

Cllr. Steve Curran is the leader of the London Borough of Hounslow and is the Chair of London Councils’ Capital Ambition Board

If you would like to find out more about the London Ventures programme visit http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/our-key-themes/london-ventures