We are excited to announce that GearedApp has successfully made it through to the Accelerator stage of Civtech 7 with our innovative nursery placement admission solution.
The GearedApp team have been working hard since August, having made it onto the exploration stage of the CivTech 7 challenge. Our hard work so far has paid off, and we have now been invited to take our solution to revolutionise nursery admission processes forward into the Accelerator stage.
A Challenge to Streamline Nursery Admissions
Our challenge is to help West Lothian Council to improve the nursery admission processes to help save staff time and help parents receive clarity on their placements. More specifically:
“How can technology aid parents through the admissions process for an ever-changing statutory entitlement to early learning and childcare?”
This is a challenge that spoke directly to directors Andrzej and Josh, both of whom have young children and have struggled to find appropriate nursery placements. We know first-hand the challenge that parents face when trying to apply to multiple nurseries and childcare providers simultaneously, and the long waiting game and period of uncertainty while you wait to hear your outcome. We have witnessed the same struggles from friends and family. When we read the challenge description, we were interested in ways that we could try to solve this issue for parents, even if it meant just improving communication and managing parents’ expectations.
What we have discovered since working with West Lothian Council is that there are many ways we can help to improve processes for the local authority staff who assess admission processes. We have an opportunity to create an automated admission system that will help to save staff time and be flexible enough to respond to our new, ever-changing world. We are convinced that technology can play a part in helping parents and local authorities and educational organisations across the country to reduce the admin work required in processing applications and to streamline the process for everyone involved.
GearedApp’s solution looks to drastically reduce the amount of administrative work for West Lothian Council. We plan to develop a unique, automated scoring system, which will match applications with parents’ choices in a fair and transparent manner while giving council staff the flexibility and control they need to intervene when necessary. This new system will result in clearer communication with parents, shorter processing time and less administrative overhead for staff. Our main goal is to allow staff to review applications in minutes rather than days.
Longer term, our solution will be built with flexibility in mind, and we hope to roll this out to other local authorities and educational organisations that deal with complex admission processes.
What is Civtech 7?
CivTech is the world’s first government-run accelerator for digital public services. The programme, which is run by the Scottish Government, brings people from the public, private and third sectors together to build things that make the world a better place through innovation. Civtech takes real problems faced by government departments, public sector organisations and charities, and invites anyone with a brilliant idea to work hand-in-hand with these organisations to build a solution. Now it it’s 7th year, since launch CivTech has set 77 Challenges for entrepreneurs and companies, with 85 companies going through to the accelerator stage.
The CivTech process involves a series of competitive stages, before entering an intense 15-week Accelerator stage. This is an intense period of fast-track product development where we will be able to work with our Challenge Sponsors to produce an MVP (a Minimum Viable Product) that both works and is capable of further development. We will also have access to support and advice along the way from the CivTech team and partners, helping us to build a solution that is both functional and commercially viable.
At the end of this accelerator period, we will have the chance to pitch our solution at a ‘demo day’ held in early February. This will be a fantastic opportunity for us to share our product with an audience of several hundred people from across the public sector, the third sector and the private sector — including early-stage investors.
Our Progress So Far in the Exploratory Stage
We started work on this challenge in August 2022 when we were invited to compete in the CivTech 7 exploratory stage. Since then we have been working closely with West Lothian Council to identify ways we can improve their processes, in competition with other organisations. This was an intensive period of discovery, which we used to interview local authority staff, participate in CivTech workshops and conduct market research, early-stage design workshops and gather as much feedback as possible. This process helped us to challenge our own assumptions and look at ways to improve processes for the benefit of everyone involved, from nursery staff all the way through to parents.
We submitted a final report and pitched our ideas for our innovative matching algorithm to the West Lothian Council and CivTech teams, and are delighted that we have made it through to the next stage.
The 15-week Accelerator stage has now kicked off and we are eager to take all of our learnings forward, fire up our development team and start building the MVP. Look out for updates and progress on our product across our social media channels over the next few months.
Thanks to CivTech and our sponsors at the West Lothian Council for their support so far – we are looking forward to the ride!