The Collective Innovation Challenge

Creating new ideas to tackle the COVID-19 crisis

The Collective Innovation Challenge

Join us in
Creating new ideas to tackle the COVID-19 crisis

We believe in the power of bringing people together to tackle critical social issues. As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, vulnerable communities urgently need support. This is why we are challenging you to think of innovative ideas that can support communities that are significantly affected by the COVID-19 crisis.  

The Collective Innovation Challenge is an online programme and community to support you in developing ideas to help isolated older people, young people with disadvantaged backgrounds, and people who experience homelessness. If you want to make a difference to these groups, sign up now.


Our focus

How can we support vulnerable groups who are affected by the COVID-19 crisis?

Isolated older people

We are particularly interested in working with those who experience the most severe forms of social isolation — people who live independently, the economically disadvantaged, and those who don’t have existing strong social networks. How can we support the emotional and social needs of those aged over 70 who have been asked to take the most stringent social distancing measures?

Young people with disadvantaged backgrounds

This is a moment that exposes many of inequities faced by young people in our society —from access to quality food and broadband and computers needed for distance education to the supportive environments needed to focus on learning. For the millions of young people who are homeless or food insecure, school is often the one place where they feel safe and where some of their urgent needs are met. How can we support the social, physical and mental-health needs of society’s most vulnerable young people and their carers?

People who experience homelessness

In London alone, there were 8,855 people sleeping rough in 2019. These people are at serious risk during the COVID-19 crisis. What can we do to help rough sleepers transition from hotels into permanent housing, increase permanent housing options in a changing property market, and how can we prevent people from entering a cycle of homelessness?

Why join?

Joining the Innovation Challenge will increase the chance of success for your idea. Once you sign up, you will get access to our online platforms where you can share your ideas, find team members, or join other teams. You can read our research briefs to get a better understanding of the problems that the groups we focus on face.

You will be supported throughout the idea development process by our mentors. You will also get access to our educational content, our network of partners, and feedback sessions with frontline experts who can validate your idea.

By the end of each challenge, the most promising ideas will be selected to be brought to life with our partners. Depending on the challenge you participate in, this means funding, ongoing coaching, and/or access to their network.

If you don’t have an idea and simply want to donate your skills, you can join projects from other people in the community.

Finished challenges

We will run a series of innovation challenges in the next months. Our first challenge was the ‘Ending Homelessness Challenge’ with Crisis UK.

Crisis works to end homelessness, knows that homelessness is not inevitable and that together we can end it. They are looking for entrepreneurial individuals with a range of backgrounds, expertise, and experiences to create new solutions to prevent homelessness for those who may be at risk of it due to coronavirus and to ensure rough sleepers can move into long-term accommodation.


Who can participate?

Anyone who wants to contribute their skills is welcome to take part. Whether you have experience in tech, UX, business, project management, the charity sector, or the creative arts, there is no limit to what we can achieve if we bring our strengths together.  

That said, we actively encourage people who have personal or professional experience working with organisations in our Focus Areas to apply.  

You can be from anywhere in the world to participate. However, as we are London-based Foundation, we exclusively work with organisations in the UK for the time being. We do believe that to a large extent, challenges in the UK are also relevant in other geographical contexts. We hope that the solutions that come out of the challenges will inspire a positive impact in and outside of the UK.

What is the timeline of this programme?

The Collective Innovation Challenge started welcoming sign-ups on April 24th, and the online platform and first Challenge launched in the first week of May.

The challenges will run for a minimum of 4 weeks, meaning that the first ideas will be selected at the end of May.   

However, we will onboard new Challenge partners and challenges on an ongoing basis. This means that we will have different timelines for different challenges. People can participate at any point in the timeline, but we encourage people to join teams early.  

What is an Innovation Challenge? 

An innovation challenge promotes innovation by crowd-sourcing potential solutions for a particular problem.  

Compared to other programmes, the Collective Innovation Challenge is 100% online and focuses entirely on helping charities innovate during the COVID-19 crisis. 

What type of ideas can we create?

Ideas could take any format: tech solutions, grassroots initiatives, physical products, online campaigns, and more. Each challenge will require different types of solutions and specify what the Challenge partner is looking for. 

I want to be a partner. How can we host a challenge? 

We welcome charities, businesses and funders who have a shared goal of supporting the people we focus on (isolated older people, young people with disadvantaged backgrounds, people who experience homelessness), and are interested in what solutions our community of social innovators could think of to address the problems faced by these groups.

We can develop a Challenge brief together and discuss how you’d like to engage with our community.

If this sounds exciting, please e-mail Andre Damian, Director of The Collective Foundation, at at

As The Collective Foundation is based in London, we seek to work with organisations who are either based or have beneficiaries in London or the UK more widely (amongst other geographies). 

How will I work together with others? 

After you sign up to the community, you will get an invitation to join our Slack channel, along with a guide how to use it. We have created different channels for you to introduce yourself and the skills you have to offer, share news and resources, present your idea and recruit team members. 

We encourage all teams to create their own groups within the Slack workspace so you can collaborate together on your idea. Working online is not always the easiest way to communicate, so we will do our best to facilitate this process. 

Teams should consist of a maximum of 5 people

We highly encourage participants to form teams. We see collaboration as an integral part of creating a successful project. However, if you prefer to work alone on your idea, that is also allowed. We do advise you to seek guidance from our Challenge partners.  

How will I get feedback for my idea?

We will organise interactive online sessions in which you will get an opportunity to speak with the organisation that hosts the challenge you are participating in.  

How do I submit my idea? 

When you have filled in the sign-up form, you will receive an invitation to join our Ideanote platform along with instructions how to use it. You will be able to formally submit your ideas via the platform. 

How will ideas be selected? 

Challenge partners will select the most promising ideas which will be further supported to come to life. It is likely that they will favour ideas that are: 
– Feasible
– Impactful
– Comprehensive
– Inclusive
– Innovative
– Adaptable to existing resources

Can existing organisations or projects participate?

Yes. Whilst we’re primarily looking for new ideas, we are also open to receive ideas from individuals and organisations with existing projects that can be scaled further.

Do you have a code of conduct? 

Yes, and please take the time to read it through here.

Be a part of the solution