UK SMEs Awarded £200,000 To Digitally Transform Planning System


Nearly 90 entries were submitted and the winners now have 12 weeks to develop prototypes

Nine SMEs and local planning authorities have been awarded £200,000 from the UK’s centre of excellence in urban innovation to support the development of new innovations to transform the urban planning system.

Future Cities Catapult dished out the funds after inviting UK businesses, entrepreneurs and planning authorities to develop ideas for a more data-driven and digitally-enabled platform.

Nearly 90 entries were submitted and the winners now have 12 weeks to develop prototypes that will help to digitally transform the UK’s planning system.

london streets


The submissions covered a range of areas, including using data to identify land for housing developments, managing the impact of new developments on school and GP capacities and leveraging augmented reality to allow citizens to see future developments on their smartphone or tablet.

“For years we’ve heard how the planning system is broken, and how it hasn’t delivered the number of homes we need or the types of places we want to live in,” said Euan Mills, planning and urban design lead at Future Cities Catapult. “Our Future of Planning programme focuses primarily on how we plan, rather than what we plan for, and creates critical space to experiment; allowing those involved in the planning system to think how it could be done differently.

“We’re excited to work with the winners of our Open Call as they develop and test prototypes to build a faster, more transparent and equitable planning system.”

The nine winners will receive between £10,000-20,000 each to develop and demonstrate concepts that address challenges such as data-informed planning, increasing citizen influence and improving the user experience of planning applications.

The announcement comes shortly after the release of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which includes a £4.7 billion R&D fund for robotics, IoT and 5G and plans to boost the growth and support of Britain’s artificial intelligence (AI) sector.

The government has also announced a Digital Skills Partnership to tackle the growing industry skills gap included a strong nod towards technology-based funding in its recent Spring Budget.

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