£3m Rapid Recovery Challenge Winners Named to Support Those Financially Hit by Covid-19 – Winners Will Improve Job Prospects & Financial Stability of Consumers

  • IT Innovations
  • 23.09.2021 03:10 pm
  • Winners are Hastee - financial health platform offering earnings on demand, financial wellbeing & education tools – and Udrafter - online marketplace for on-demand student and graduate talent offering paid micro-internships

  • Nesta’s Rapid Recovery Challenge, launched in response to the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, is designed to support and scale new tools and solutions that aim to provide rapid and personalised support with finances and jobs to people across the UK

  • Announcement accompanied with new Social Market Foundation (SMF) report, commissioned by Nesta Challenges, including recommendations for government to support COVID-19 recovery

The winners of Nesta’s Rapid Recovery Challenge have today been announced as the £3m prize closes. Since its launch, the Challenge innovators have provided support to 63,000 people during the pandemic. The two winners will receive an additional £200,000 each - bringing their total challenge funding to £475,000 each - and go on to collectively support a further 100,000 people by the end of 2023. 

The winners of the Rapid Recovery Challenge are:

  • Hastee - a financial health platform that offers earnings on demand, financial education, and other financial well-being tools 

  • Udrafter - an online marketplace where businesses can access student and graduate talent on-demand and students are paid to complete degree relevant micro-internships which provide them with crucial work experience

As part of the Challenge, Hastee enhanced its financial education offer to provide a bespoke tool for users allowing them to take better control of their finances. Giving people access to their pay as and when it is earned helps workers manage their incomings and outgoings, and reducing the need to revert to high-cost credit. This, in turn, reduces financial stress and improves financial health.

Meanwhile, Udrafter has improved its automated online technology, targeted at young people studying or recently graduated from higher education at college or university in the UK - with a particular focus on those whose employment status has been badly impacted by Covid-19. It has improved the onboarding experience and usability of the platform, while also being more targeted in reaching new users.

Nesta’s £3m Rapid Recovery Challenge was launched in response to the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge is designed to support and scale new tools and solutions which offer rapid and personalised support to improve the job prospects and financial situation of people impacted by COVID-19 across the UK. 

Funded by Nesta in partnership with JPMorgan Chase and the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), fourteen innovative solutions were provided with funding and support to further develop and then rapidly scale their ideas. 

The two winners have collectively scaled to over 30,000 consumers in just 4 months, demonstrating that through innovative practice and smart use of technology, problems can be solved efficiently and effectively. The winners of the Rapid Recovery Challenge are announced as the latest ONS data shows the unemployment rate - while decreasing - stands at 4.6%, up from 3.8% during the same period in 2019 demonstrating the ongoing strain on people’s career prospects and household finances. 

Alongside the Challenge programme, Nesta Challenges commissioned a report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) - Guaranteeing a Rapid Recovery. The report sets a series of recommendations for government and innovators to support consumers as the recovery from COVID-19 continues including:

  • The government could take a leading role in developing and supporting innovation on jobs and financial resilience to support people to recover post-pandemic - including allowing GPs to ‘prescribe’ services to support people’s career and financial wellbeing

  • Improved official data, particularly on household finances, to help identify where additional support is needed for individuals

It also calls on the UK government to take a more proactive role in coordinating innovation on jobs and financial resilience support. For example through curating a network of organisations with direct links to vulnerable users, enabling primary care professionals to refer people to a range of services to support their health and wellbeing, or allow innovators to co-locate within government-owned sites such as Job Centres.

Tris Dyson, managing director at Nesta Challenges, said: The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the financial resilience and job prospects of many people across the UK, particularly young people and those in already precarious positions. 

“Innovative tools and solutions that help people who have borne the brunt of the economic shock of the pandemic are vital - tools like those offered by our challenge prize winners Hastee and Udrafter.

“Through the Rapid Recovery Challenge, 14 innovators have received funding and support to help more than 63,000 people across the UK and the winners will reach a further 100,000 by the end of 2023. Throughout the challenge, these tools and platforms were carefully cultivated to evolve into the effective and scalable solutions we see today. The tools developed by the two winners will significantly boost access to employment opportunities and money for thousands of individuals who would otherwise face a struggle to survive financially as the UK emerges from the pandemic.

Alongside the Challenge prize, the SMF report also underlines the importance of the role played by government, regulators, policymakers and stakeholders in ensuring support reaches the people who need it most, and innovations like these can continue to succeed.” 

Scott Corfe, research director at the SMF, said: As the furlough scheme closes and the dust settles on the biggest economic crisis since the Second World War, the state now must turn its attention to supporting a recovery which prioritises employment and financial support for those hardest hit by the pandemic.

“The evidence is clear: rapid and personalised support is the best way to help people back into work and bolster financial resilience. The Government can lead the charge by coordinating innovation to ensure enterprising firms can scale solutions that provide tailored support at speed."

The Guaranteeing a Rapid Recovery report can be accessed here: www.smf.co.uk/publications/rapid-recovery


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