A £500,000 fund has been launched to find UK tech companies who can create digital support solutions for those at risk while staying in isolation.

Named the ‘Techforce19’, the challenge will see at least twenty firms receive up to £25,000 when it is launched in the coming weeks.

The challenge hopes to find companies which can provide remote social care, optimise the volunteer sector, and improve mental health support through new technology.

The programme is being launched by NHSX and managed by PUBLIC, a GovTech venture firm which will not receive any payment.

The new fund was announced as Prime Minister Boris Johnson begins an enforceable lockdown of all but essential UK workers.

Matthew Gould, Chief Executive of NHSX, said tech can play an important role in helping the country deal with the challenges created by coronavirus.

“This competition is focused on the problems created by isolation, which lend themselves to digital solutions,” he said.

“It will allow NHSX to accelerate the development of those solutions, so within weeks they can help those in isolation suffering from loneliness, mental health issues and other problems.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock added: “If people cannot leave the house, we need to quickly find ways to bring support to them and today I am calling on the strength of our innovative technology sector to take on this challenge.

“Techforce19 will mobilise the UK’s incredible reservoir of talent to develop simple, accessible tools that can be rolled out quickly and help tackle the effect of social isolation.

“I am calling on our brilliant tech sector to take on this challenge.”