The government is launching competitions for tech firms to develop solutions to tackle the major social challenges of our modern age.

Today Minister for Implementation Oliver Dowden will announce the first round of competitions for tech specialists to tackle social challenges by looking at the data economy, clean growth, healthy ageing and the future of mobility.

“Our modern Industrial Strategy will cement Britain’s position as a world-leader in digital innovation and this government is committed to providing more opportunities for tech businesses – including small firms – to access public procurement contracts,” said Dowden.

“Through emerging technologies, this fund will elevate British companies onto a global market while helping to deliver outstanding public services and improving lives for people.”

The competitions, to be unveiled at the government’s flagship digital conference Sprint 18, will be delivered using the £20 million govtech fund launched in November.

“The govtech fund encourages firms to find innovative ways to fix the big social problems we all face: loneliness, plastic pollution and national security,” added Dowden.

The first of these competitions opens on Monday 14 May and runs for six weeks, with the remaining competitions being launched in subsequent months.

Tech firms bidding to the fund will have free rein to create truly innovative fixes. Winning companies will be awarded up to £50,000 to develop their ideas.

The companies providing the best potential solutions will then be awarded research and development contracts of up to £500,000 to build prototypes.

These solutions will then be available to the public sector to purchase.