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14 October 2021
New report highlights integral role of startups to deliver government priorities
Unsplash © Michael D Beckwith

New report highlights integral role of startups to deliver government priorities

A new report titled ‘The State of European GovTech: Key Themes and Plays in the European Govtech Ecosystem’ has been launched by government-focused technology company Public, outlining how startups can best engage in the delivery of public services as needed by the government.

The report explores the current state of govtech, looking at how the sector has developed in recent years and some of the key successes and failures. It also analyses the impact of COVID-19 at accelerating digitalisation within European governments and the consequential effect on govtech as a whole across the continent. 

Public predicts that by 2025, almost every European country will have launched an iteration of their own govtech programme. In the UK, The GovTech Catalyst Fund is a programme delivered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Government Digital Service (GDS). The programme utilises a £20M fund to solve public sector problems using innovative technology submitted from different parts of government. The report also highlights similar initiatives in countries including Poland, Spain, France and Denmark.

The report shines a spotlight on governments’ reliance on startups to help deliver critical public services, which was further emphasised during the height of COVID-19. One example is a case study with Iceland-based healthtech startup Sidekick, which celebrated the company’s ability to pivot during the pandemic and use their software to triage patients and manage large numbers of self-isolating individuals. Their digital therapeutics platform allowed for more efficient resourcing of healthcare services by freeing up time for frontline healthcare workers and providing detailed monitoring of symptoms for those self-isolating.

However, the report also found govtech achievements still only represent a modest contribution to digital government in 2021. Indeed, 80% of startups working with the public sector do not consider themselves part of the govtech ecosystem. 

Challenges flagged by these startups include procurement, scaling up, government attitude towards startups, and digital skills. Interestingly, 50% of survey respondents highlighted ‘government being risk-averse’ as a key barrier for startups.

The report concludes: “The opportunity is now to embed the changes and build govtech into one of the most important digital sectors of the economy for the benefit of ordinary citizens who will get better services.”

To read the report in full, click here.