Novoville wins TechForce COVID challenge with its AI-powered civic engagement app

27 July 2020 | Client news

Novoville wins TechForce COVID challenge with its AI-powered civic engagement app

Tech start-up Novoville says the ‘smooth and straightforward’ support from Harper James Solicitors is helping them to succeed, following their win of a major government contract. They beat off 1,600 others to provide an innovative new digital solution to support the UK fight against COVID-19. 

Novoville’s powerful platform helps connect local authorities with communities, with their new app feature GetVolunteering recently selected for the national TechForce19 challenge, led by NHSX, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Working alongside Peopletoo, Novoville’s GetVolunteering module can fast-track volunteers into key clinical and non-clinical roles in social care to help battle the effects of coronavirus.

Commenting on the TechForce19 winners, the Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said: ‘Technology has already proven to be a powerful tool in our response to this pandemic, keeping us connected in ways we could not have imagined even a few years ago. These innovative projects will offer fresh hope and vital support to some of the people who need it most and I’m very excited to see how they progress.’

The GetVolunteering solution is already being used by the Befriending Partnership in Kirklees in Yorkshire to support volunteers and social care. Commenting on Novoville’s innovation, Lisa Butland, the Chief Executive of Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees, said: ‘The pace at which this app has been implemented is incredible. We’re already beginning to see the benefits of this technology, both from the perspective of efficiencies in the way that we work, such as reduced admin time, but more importantly, in the service and support we’re providing to our clients.’

The West Yorkshire charity required new tech support in recent months to play its part in reaching some of the 6.4m people aged 70 and over in the UK who are worried about the effect that coronavirus is having on their lives. Almost half those people report that their mental health has been affected by coronavirus.

Our team at Harper James Solicitors has been working with Novoville for several months now. We’ve supported them in two investment rounds and assisted them with the terms of and completion of their government programme.

We are currently collaborating on a new investment round via the Future Fund. Iraklis Bourantas, the COO of Novoville, said: ‘The smooth and straightforward advice, on a day-to-day basis, has helped ensure we have been able to achieve many of our goals as a company. For us, the support of Harper James Solicitors has been a gift. The collaboration we have had has been of tremendous importance. The service has been superb value for money.’

Corporate solicitor Jas Bhogal added: ‘It is fantastic to see the way Novoville continues to develop and to be able to support them through their business journey.’

Novoville’s service is filling an important void as the UK looks to move out of the pandemic. At the heart of their innovative platform are uniquely designed chatbots. These AI-powered conversational interfaces allow local authorities to reach a wide number of residents quickly, to get their opinion on any local priority issues, ranging from environmental policy to transportation planning. 

They reinforce local democratic participation by facilitating dialogue between people and elected officials. Thanks to Novoville, these conversations now take place via social media and chat apps rather than in council chambers or boardrooms. Novoville chatbot consultations are easily deployed on a council’s website, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, and other popular messaging platforms. 

The clever technology offers an effective and cost-efficient way to improve civic engagement and a number of authorities, including East Sussex County Council, are already benefiting. Last month, East Sussex conducted an interactive chatbot consultation to ask residents about the impact the virus is having on their lives, and what their priorities are for reset and recovery. Within a fortnight, more than 10,000 residents had participated in the conversation, and their responses will help guide the authority’s planning and services as they help East Sussex to rebuild for the future.

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