Design Council and Mayor of London seek pandemic recovery “innovators”

The Design Council will work with the Mayor’s office to seek out and develop “innovation teams” to help the city bounce back from Covid.

The Mayor of London’s office has announced it will work with the Design Council to develop a “design-led approach” to the city’s pandemic recovery.

London has been one of the worst hit cities in the UK in terms of coronavirus and its after effects. As well having huge numbers of positive cases, the city has also experienced the heaviest job losses of anywhere in the UK, suffered funding problems for its transport network, and seen an exodus of people moving to other parts of the country.

The Designing London’s Recovery initiative, which is also being run in collaboration with the London Office for Technology and Innovation (LOTI) will seek to deliver a suite of co-designed solutions that help the city and its inhabitants bounce back.

“Multi-disciplinary innovation teams”

Both organisations and individuals, from across “all areas of expertise”, are encouraged to submit an expression of interest to join the programme.

Successful applicants will then go on to form “multi-disciplinary innovation teams”, which will work with the Greater London Authority (GLA), local stakeholders and community groups to address “the city’s most pressing challenges”.

The expected result is a series of co-designed solutions, which will benefit from “coaching, mentoring and support” from the Design Council.

Grants will be provided to fund the design, testing and scale up of the most promising solutions found by the teams, with support from the Design Council following through to 2022.

“Innovation continues beyond the projects”

The Mayor of London’s office says methodology of engaging with organisations across London will pioneer “a new way of working”, benefitting those who are most vulnerable and hardest hit by the pandemic.

Meanwhile chief design officer Cat Drew says the partnership’s “mission-led approach” will bring organisations together across sectors.

“By building design skills in all programme participants, it means that innovation continues beyond the projects and lifetime of the programme, building London’s resilience for future change,” she says.

£1 million Resilience Fund

Alongside the Designing London’s Recovery innovation programme, the Mayor of London has also set a series of challenges to encourage the city’s recovery from the pandemic, pledging £1 million in funding support.

The Resilience Fund and related challenges are mostly based around digital technology and how this can tackle serious issues facing specific areas of the capital. Service designers in particular may find their skills wanted here.

There are 10 challenges in total with each being led by a different partner, such as Hackney Council, the Royal Docks Team, Living Wage Foundation and King’s College London.

Examples of challenges include “activating” high streets and vacant properties using data; increasing the resilience of London’s markets and market traders; and tackling food insecurity across the city.

The Mayor’s Resilience Fund is now open for applications, for more information head here.

Designing London’s Recovery will open for applications on 16 March, for more information head here.

Banner image: Shutterstock

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