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Keeping Connected Business Challenge

Frequently asked questions about the Keeping Connected Business Challenge.


Who can apply?

We’re looking for collaborative teams of businesses/organisations and designers. Within your team you should have the ability to design a great service with commercial potential, to involve users in a meaningful way, and to translate your ideas into a workable and viable reality. Businesses/organisations and design firms can be of any size and from any sector but must be registered in the UK.  Academic institutions are not eligible to apply as the lead partner, but spin off businesses from academic institutions are. 

Why should I enter? 

  • The opportunity to develop an innovative idea for a growing consumer market and translate it into reality

  • A way to expand and develop your business

  • The chance to collaborate with designers and benefit from their creativity and skills

  • Development of your network and contacts through involvement with the TSB and Design Council 

What will I receive if I'm succesful?

  • A share of £495,000 to turn your idea into reality along with 100% ownership of the intellectual property rights to your idea

  • Help showcasing your project to the media, industry, and the public

  • Support finding further investment for your proposed concept

What do you mean by 'older adults'?

If you consider your project to be aimed at older adults, then it’s likely we will too.  How we see ourselves and others in terms of ‘ageing’ and ‘old age’ is individual and is determined by many factors including ethnicity, culture, lifestyle, to name but a few. We don’t believe being ‘old’ is defined solely by chronological age (e.g. those aged 65+ or 86+), or by social classification (e.g. retirement, reaching pensionable age). The Department of Health classify those aged over 50 as ‘entering old age’ and we think this a useful starting point for thinking about the diversity of the ‘older adult population’.


Does my idea need to be based on technology?

The service solution needs to be supported or enabled by technology (either existing or new). Technology does not need to be central to the service idea/concept, but should be embedded in its execution. 

What if I'm interested in the challenge but I'm not sure who I can partner with? 

We will be running a series of briefing sessions and drop in events throughout September and October to help you with finding partners. You might also find social networking sites such as LinkedIn (the Design Council LinkedIn group has nearly 5000 members) useful. We would also recommend thinking about the contacts you already have – asking around can often help uncover useful contacts. Contact: or for more information. 

What roles should different partners play in a team?

We expect partners to work together collaboratively to develop their ideas and hope that this experience of working together provides benefits beyond the remit of the challenge. In terms of specific skills we do not wish to prescriptive but you may find the following outline of potential roles helpful:

  • Design partners can bring their expertise of involving users, prototyping and creative thinking to the team. They are good at making things visible and tangible which is great for collaborative working and testing out ideas and prototyping services with users.
  • Business partners will bring their experience of developing and delivering a viable business on the ground. The proposed service may be based on developing the infrastructure of their existing business. Ultimately we envisage that the business partner is likely to be responsible for the ongoing development and operation of the service post-challenge and this is why we ask that the teams have a business partner as a lead.

If my team is selected at phase 1 what are we allowed to spend the £5,000 on?

Anything, as long as it’s directly related to refining your idea and approach, strengthening your team, developing your business plan, and preparing your pitch for the second round of funding. 

How much money can teams ask for at phase 2?

Whatever you feel is needed over the 5 month development stage to develop your proposed concept. You will need to provide a detailed breakdown of what you will use this money for (in your stage two submission). We are looking to fund up to 4 teams with the £445,000 prize money. 

If our team is succesful as stage 2 when do we receive the money and what can we spend it on?

The funding will be paid in instalments linked to milestones in your project development which will be agreed on an individual basis with each team. You can spend the money just as you would spend R&D money assigned to a project. It can be used to buy materials, to pay for the professional skills you need or to build iterations of prototypes. None of the money should be used for the day-to-day running of an existing company or as investment to grow a company. It’s strictly intended for use on turning ideas for services into reality.

What are you expecting to see by the end of phase 2?

We will agree the outputs for the end of phase 2 with each of the winning teams individually. Teams should be aiming to reach at least one of the following at the end of the five months: first investment in their proposed service, first users for their service or first revenue from their service. 

I don't know much about what it means to be connected for older adults - do you have any additional information on this?

The ‘food for thought’ document provides a variety of material to help stimulate initial thinking on the topic and the brief section of the call for entries should also help. You can also come along to one of our briefing or drop in sessions to find out more. 

You mentioned more than money.  What other support are you offering?

The Keeping Connected Business Challenge team will be available throughout the challenge to provide support to the winning teams, help securing further investment and help showcasing your project to media, industry and the public. Teams will also benefit from feedback from the project’s Programme Advisory Group during the process.