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Encouraging and testing new ideas

Challenge Prizes are a great way to encourage and test new ideas. By offering incentives  such as development funding and practical support to their winners, challenge prizes encourage people to think about what could help solve a problem and invest in making advances. They can shine a light on neglected issues, result in great ideas, and forge new collaborations.

Essex faces many challenges. Often, we know what the problem is but we don't know what all the answers are.  That's why we established Essex Challenge Prizes, working in partnership with Nesta,  to engage with a range of ‘innovators’ and encourage them to get  their thinking caps on. Together we can find innovative ideas to solve these problems.

We ran our pilot prize during 2016  - Families Included. Families in Essex have told us that they experience day to day pressures related to raising a young child and for some this can leave them feeling lonely. Families Included threw the challenge open to innovators across Essex to come forward with ideas about how this could be tackled. Fifty entries were whittled down to eight finalists who worked to test and develop their ideas with local families. Our winners – Mums and Families UK  - won a prize of £10,000 to support them to further develop and grow their idea.

Living well with dementia 

The 2018 Challenge Prize is focusing on supporting Essex residents to live well with DementiaIn May this year a judging panel made up of national experts and chaired by Professor Alistair Burns, shortlisted nine ideas from over 70 national applications. Each of the ideas shortlisted was identified as having the potential to change the day to day life of people living with dementia and to help keep them connected to the people and places around them.

The nine finalists will be working with people living with dementia, their families and care providers to test, develop and evaluate their prototypes before presenting their business cases back to the same judging panel in November in the hope of securing the £100,000 investment on offer.

Each of the nine finalists has written a blog post that charts their journey through the early stages of the prize. To find out more about each of the finalists, their ideas and how they are progressing follow the link

Essex County Council are the first Local Authority to establish a Challenge Prize programme to seek new and innovative ways to tackle existing problems.  

Delivered in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, PA Consulting, techUK and the University of Essex the prize has been widely supported by organisations nationally and held up as real opportunity to challenge the normal commissioning and procurement processes.

You can read Richard Puleston's blog on preparing for the Challenge Prize 2018 here. 

If you would like to find out more e-mail the Essex Challenge Prize team or visit the Challenge Prize website here.


last updated 06/08/18



Hear directly from our 2016 winner what it was like to be part of the Challenge Prize process