High-profile judging panel announced for Challenge helping workers hit by COVID-19
  • Nesta’s £2.8m Rapid Recovery Challenge aims to help improve access to jobs and financial support for those hit hardest by the pandemic

  • The 8-strong judging panel includes industry leaders with a wealth of experience and relevant insight

  • Companies, organisations and charities are encouraged to enter their innovative solutions to the Challenge for a chance to win up to £475,000, in addition to valuable non-financial support

Nesta, the innovation foundation, today announces the judging panel for its £2.8 million Rapid Recovery Challenge, aiming to find and support solutions that improve access to jobs and money for people across the UK.  In partnership with the Money and Pensions Service and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the 12-month Challenge focuses on supporting workers hit hardest by the economic shock of COVID-19, including those in low paid jobs, younger workers and those in insecure roles such as the gig economy. 

With the Government-supported furlough scheme and credit payment holidays coming to an end in October, many are concerned about their job prospects and financial stability. Recent research conducted by Nesta revealed that over a third of workers (36%) feel their job is less secure than before the pandemic, rising to 63% of those on furlough.  The research also found that more than two in five (44%) feel less financially secure than before the pandemic, with the uncertainty particularly being felt among the younger generation (52% of 18-24 year olds).  

The Rapid Recovery Challenge aims to find, inspire and accelerate innovations that help workers impacted by COVID-19 access jobs and money. Applications are currently open for companies, organisations and charities to enter their solutions for a chance to win up to £475,000, in addition to bespoke expert support.  

Successful applicants will be assessed by an independent judging panel, consisting of industry experts with a wealth of experience and relevant insight, working for organisations such as the Fintech Scotland, the Equality Trust, and Fair for You – as well as media figures and advocates for the economically vulnerable. The full judging panel includes: 

·        Stephen Ingledew – CEO of Fintech Scotland  

·        Dr Wanda Wyporska – Executive Director at the Equality Trust 

·        Fiona Aldridge – Director, Policy & Research at the Learning & Work Institute  

·        Chris Goulden – Director, Impact and Evidence at Youth Futures Foundation 

·        Elaine Smith – Director of Innovation Community at Catalyst 

·        Angela Clements – CEO of Fair for You 

·        Dr Faiza Shaheen – Director at the Centre for Labour and Social Studies 

·        Nikki Lawrence – CEO of Career Wales 

Ravi Gurumurthy, Chief Executive of Nestacomments: “Due to COVID-19, millions of UK workers have been facing severe threats to their job security and household finances. We’re pleased to have convened such a strong judging panel to help us find solutions that support the workers who have been most impacted by the pandemic. The judges’ breadth of experience and knowledge will be invaluable when assessing the applications and we look forward to working with them closely over the course of the Challenge.” 

The Rapid Recovery Challenge will support innovators to develop and scale solutions through financial grants and capacity building. Solutions must already exist – at least in prototype form – and must have been piloted with a minimum of 1,000 users.  

Entries close on 26 October 2020 with the 12 semi-finalists being announced in December. For more information about how to enter the Rapid Recovery Challenge visit rapidrecovery.challenges.org 

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