Public, the new govtech investment firm set up by ex-PM advisor Daniel Korski, is taking a broad view of the sorts of innovation it thinks can transform UK public services in its selection of a first cohort for its GovStart programme, as well as in a major report defining the market overall. Julian Blake reports.
Public, the new investment firm led by ex-10 Downing Street aide Daniel Korski, has announced the first 10 companies that will participate in its programme to help technology startups transform public services. It’s clear from the selection and a new report alongside that the firm takes a broad view of the innovation it believes can help deliver that transformation.
The first cohort of companies moving into Public’s GovStart programme build a range of technologies, with “the unifying factor” that they all produce a technology product that can be used to improve public services by making them more efficient, secure and better at meeting the needs of citizens.
The 10 startups (listed below) include an online healthcare platform that provides advice on prenatal issues, a visual identity verification system based on machine learning and a platform connecting local government with citizens. GovStart offers a six-month growth programme designed to help companies engage and grow their businesses within the public sector.
DigitalAgenda first reported the arrival of Korski’s initiative in November, and he talked to us about the project in more detail in an Agenda Setters interview in May.
GovStart – first cohort
Adzuna – search engine and advice service for job applications
Ask the Midwife – online health service for prenatal issues
Calipsa – artificial intelligence that monitors CCTV footage
Cera – adult social care platform
Eyn – visual identity verification system based on machine learning
FlyNotes – dental consent service for dental and medical operations
Novoville – platform connecting local government with citizens
Red Sift – platform that enables large data sets to be analysed securely.
RotaGeek – cloud platform that creates and integrates rotas and calendars.
Pockit – a bank focused exclusively on the unbanked and financially underserved.
Alongside the confirmation of the cohort, a new Public report estimates that the UK’s govtech sector will be worth at least £20bn by 2025. This is in a global market it now estimates at £400bn.
The State of the UK GovTech Market highlights what Public says is a “unique opportunity for the UK to lead the global govtech market”, with small companies growing by focusing their business model on improving public services.
The report says: “A new generation of technology is changing the way a nation – or, indeed, a local government – collects taxes, delivers services, distributes welfare, maintains security, and more. In time, and perhaps a surprisingly short time, the whole way a state engages with its citizens will be different.”
The report includes an account of the UK govtech market from 1997 when then-PM Tony Blair introduced e-government initiatives through to this year’s government digital strategy. It says govtech can help citizens, policymakers, buyers, startups, investors and political leaders. And it says VC investment in govtech is accelerating, with deal flow in 2016 Q1 the same as in all of 2015.
The firm has also named a ‘Public 100’ list of the UK’s govtech market (below), including startups with products used to transform public services across delivery, adminstration, participation, infrastructure and regulation
Using data from UK procurement contracts, DueDil, Crunchbase, Angelist’s government innovation list, as well as desktop research and interviews, it lists the fastest-growing companies and sectors that have seen the most investment.
Korski, who has assembled a big-hitting team at Public alongside investor Alexander de Carvalho, said: “These companies offer smarter, more efficient technology solutions to government, with the potential to deliver significant benefits for both citizens and the state. What’s more they show that technology isn’t just about cool hipsters in Shoreditch but about life-improving support for carers, smarter transport systems and new ways of training young people.”
Public say Brexit offers opportunities and risks to the govtech market. “If leaving the EU leads to a re-think of procurement policies and regulations, with a preference given to UK firms, then there will undoubtedly be a short-term boost to a sector which is still very UK based. However, if this leads to reciprocal barriers for UK startups seeking to enter European markets, then HMG would have to redouble its support for govtech startups to succeed in non-European markets.”
Public is backed by investors including Robin Klein, Ned Cranborne, David Meller, Theodore Agnew, Mark Austen, Brent Hoberman, Jonnie Goodwin and Stefan Glaenzer. Advisors include former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, Google DeepMind founder Mustafa Suleyman and ex Obama administration head of technology procurement Phaedra Chrousos.