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Challenge Dementia: The Essex Challenge Prize

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Do you want to make a lasting impact on the lives of 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK? Do you want the chance to win £100,000 by developing a solution to support this growing challenge? Then you could be part of the next Essex Challenge Prize.

At Essex County Council we know we have to do things differently if we are to meet the challenges facing residents head on. And that’s exactly what we are doing. We have the privilege of leading a programme of work – Essex Challenge Prizes. Challenge Prizes are a pretty innovative way to commission for outcomes. They recognise that although we can be clear about the problem, there may be people out there from a diverse range of backgrounds with interesting ideas which we would never have thought of or funded through a more traditional route.

The 19th January saw us launch our second prize – Challenge Dementia. 

Challenge Dementia is a nationwide search for ambitious and innovative ideas that can support people to live well with dementia and remain connected to the people and places around them. The prize is open to anyone – individuals, groups, businesses, partnerships – who has an idea and we are keen to hear from people close to the problem, or people from an entirely different background who can bring a new perspective.

So, why dementia?  Whilst we have both been touched by dementia first hand through our families, neither of us have a professional background in health or social care. So for the past six months we have been out and about talking to a range of amazing people who are living with a diagnosis; caring for a loved one; volunteering; or working in this field.  This has helped to shape the prize and give it its focus on how we can support people to remain connected and maintain their sense of identity.   We heard time and time again how people’s worlds get smaller every day and the value people place on those connections with the people and places around them.  We have been struck by everyone’s excitement and openness to the prize and a recognition that we need to continue to look for new and innovative ways to support people living with dementia.

Our day jobs here at Essex County Council in the Corporate Strategy Team are very much focused on understanding issues and identifying possible solutions. This has been such a different experience for us, as in this process it’s not for us to come up with solutions. That’s for you to do. Instead our role, along with some fantastic support partners, is to provide support. Up to ten shortlisted finalists will be given the opportunity to work with a range of sector leaders including Business Mentors from Tech UK as well as PA Consulting, Alzheimer’s Society and the University of Essex. In addition to the non-financial support, finalists will receive a micro-grant of £5,000 each to develop and test their idea with people living with Dementia over a five month period, before presenting their Business Case in a Dragon’s Den style pitch to a panel of national judges who will decide who received the £100,000 prize in December.

The deadline for entries is the 13th April.

We are really excited to see what ideas we receive and the potential impact they will have.

At this stage we are looking for ideas with potential rather than a fully developed business case. If you’d like to find out more, do get in touch with us via our website (please visit: http://challenge-prizes.essex.gov.uk/), newsletter (https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKESSEX_CHALLENGE/subscriber/new), or e-mail us at: essex.challengeprize@essex.gov.uk

And we hope to update you all in May once our finalists are announced.


Benjamin Mann and Nicole North

Essex Challenge Prize Team

Essex County Council

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