The Build Back Better Hackathon will bring innovative people together to solve challenges focused on social and environmental issues. Discover the challenges under each theme.

Build a Healthier Society for All
COVID-19 has revealed systemic inequalities in the accessibility of health and healthcare in the UK. This theme aims to identify solutions that cover prevention (e.g. promoting active lifestyles, healthy eating, support systems), increased health awareness, and access to quality healthcare, supplies and information. What the past 6 months have also highlighted is that mental health is as important as physical health, and that certain vulnerabilities put people at a higher risk of being negatively affected by the pandemic. Particular attention should be paid to support mental health, BAME communities, care home residents, healthcare workers, people with chronic health conditions, and those living in poverty.
Subtopics: Homelessness/isolation, mental health, access to healthcare, reduced inequalities, healthcare/equipment supply.
Challenge 1: How can people help a loved one or friend to better engage with their health via diet and lifestyle?
Challenge 2: How do we encourage the public to wear masks and socially distance?
Challenge 3: How do we identify and tackle the long term mental health effects of social isolation and lock-down on children and young people?
Challenge 4: How can we prevent the digitisation of healthcare increasing inequality in access to health?
Challenge 5: How can we leverage digital technologies to improve equity in uptake and access to our healthcare system, alongside conventional care?
Future of Work


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the UK labour market at a scale never seen before and exposed deep inequalities that have long existed. Nearly 50% of all jobs at risk are in occupations earning less than £10 per hour. Part-time workers account for 35% of jobs at risk despite only being 24% of the UK workforce. Around 45% of the more vulnerable jobs are held by younger people aged 35 years of less, with young women being the most at risk across gender and age groups. We want to identify solutions that ensure the labour market is built back in a way that is inclusive and accessible to all and that these new opportunities are fair and sustainable.
Subtopics: Subtopics: Homelessness, accessible technology for all, youth employment, mentoring, decent work, employment for disadvantaged groups, responsible automation, skills for a future labour market.


Challenge 1: How can we support young people, who have been heavily affected by COVID-19 related job losses, in monetising their skills and become self-sufficient?


Challenge 2: How could we prevent loneliness and improve social connections in remote workers in the future?


Challenge 3: How might we support people to gain professional skills in the post Covid online / remote working culture?


Challenge 4: How might we prevent digitisation creating an inequality divide in the workforce as a result of the rise in remote working?


Challenge 5: How can we innovate to prevent a crisis of unemployment in older workers who are disproportionately un- and underemployed while representing a greater share of the workforce?


Challenge 6: How can employers ensure that they are automating responsibly when automation is likely to wipe out many entry level jobs, leaving many livelihoods at risk?


Build Back More Sustainable Communities
The pandemic has brought many people into new relationships with the people and places around them. Public spaces at the heart of communities have also taken on new meaning as we interact differently with them, both physically and virtually. The high street has responded in a wide range of ways, with some businesses seeing this as a chance to innovate, and others struggling to survive. Community organisations have developed new services, and have been serving people they’ve never been in touch with before. Collaboration and cooperation have flourished, bringing strangers together and creating new opportunities to redefine how the spaces around us serve everyone effectively, and what it means to be part of a community. How can we build on the beneficial changes to enable communities to continue to thrive?
Subtopics: Biodiversity and greenspaces, local food systems, sustainable supply chain, sustainable transport and travel, building self-sustaining communities, air quality, waste management, climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience.
Challenge 1: How can we ensure that every citizen has access to nature and public spaces, and takes responsibility for keeping them free from litter?
Challenge 2: How can we create online communities that are safe spaces that build tolerance, trust and healthy debate?
Challenge 3: How do we create local currencies to increase economic resilience among local independent businesses?
Challenge 4: How might we promote long-term communication and support between neighbours?
Challenge 5: How might we utilise empty commercial/high street spaces to bring communities together?
Challenge 6: How can we reduce the peak load on transport to reduce congestion and local air pollution?
Sustainable Production and Responsible Consumption (Circular Economy)
Covid-19 has made us more aware of the relationship between people and nature. The UK now has an opportunity to reverse current trends and change our consumption habits and production patterns to reduce our demands on the planet’s resources. Making production and consumption sustainable is about doing more with less, ‘closing the loop’ with innovation, and making informed choices as consumers that drive positive change. This theme aims to identify solutions around the full life cycle of all the ‘stuff’ we use; from product design and choice of materials, through the supply chain, to how things are used and then disposed of.
Subtopics: Production side: industrial innovation, product and packaging design, supply chains, waste-to-resource, circular materials loops, energy efficiency, emissions, water. Consumption side: consumer education, behavioural change, waste and recycling, footprinting of energy, emissions and water.
Challenge 1: How can we enable consumers to make better spending decisions to support long term green growth?
Challenge 2: How can we reclaim value from the waste otherwise heading to UK landfill?
Challenge 3: How do we turn around the dropping recycling rates in the UK?
Challenge 4: How can we overcome the need for and use of single-use, non-recyclable plastics required in relation to Covid-19?
Challenge 5: How can we leverage emerging technologies to achieve a local circular economy?
Challenge 6: How can we utilise innovative business models to tackle negative environmental impact from business operations?
A Resilient and Sustainable Food System for All
COVID-19 has laid bare the pre-existing inequalities and fragilities in our food systems. The food impact of the pandemic has disproportionately affected the already marginalised, particularly along the lines of gender, race and class. Many jobs have been lost, food prices seem set to increase and many are vulnerable. Industrial agriculture is being questioned amid accusations that it helps create conditions for zoonotic diseases to easily spread to humans through the destruction of natural habitat. Beyond the pandemic, we face worsening climate and biodiversity emergencies and an obesity crisis. Yet, out of the darkness, there are reasons to be hopeful. Responses to COVID-19 have reinforced the power of building community resilience and the critical value of those ‘key workers’ producing, preparing and delivering our food. There is a growing appetite to transform and reimagine our food systems. Regenerative agriculture is a theme gaining momentum not only amongst its long term advocates, but also investment and business is seeing the opportunity. Whilst many supply chains faltered as traditional markets collapsed overnight, other players in the food system innovated and are emerging strongly. Entrepreneurial cafes, restaurant, local growers, bakers, caterers, grocers, delivery companies etc. found each other and found untapped synergies to build stronger, supportive, local systems that work for all whilst these new networks also offer exciting chances for zero-waste, reusable packaging and more. Join us and be part of identifying solutions to build back our food systems in ways that are inclusive, resilient, accessible, fair and healthy for all – for people, planet and animals.
Subtopics: Habitat loss, supply chains, food insecurity, hunger, farming, fishing, labour, access to food, local food, urban growing, diversity and inclusion, obesity.
Challenge 1: How do we solve food insecurity by harnessing direct farmer-to-fork consumerism?
Challenge 2: How can we use community-led approaches to help the 1.2 million people in the UK living in food insecure environments and deserts around the UK to eat healthier and make healthy food more affordable?
Challenge 3: How can enhance opportunities for companies, businesses and individuals to grow food in (and close to) urban areas?
Challenge 4: How can we accelerate the transition to net zero food and farming?
Challenge 5: How can we effectively reduce avoidable food waste and effectively utilise unavoidable food waste?
Rebooting and Greening Hard Hit Sectors
COVID-19 has affected us all but had a particularly profound impact on certain sectors, including hospitality, tourism, events, the creative and performing arts, film and TV production, sports, the charity sector and SMEs to name a few. This theme looks to ask these industries the question: What do you need to bounce back even better; to flourish and be resilient; to increase equitable access to the value you provide; to attract investment; to enhance positive social impacts and address negative environmental impacts?
Subtopics: Travel and transport, tourism and hospitality, recreation and professional sports, sustainable event management, music, film and TV production, creative arts, performing arts and theatres, charities, SMEs, sustainable investment.
Challenge 1: How can we maintain or even increase social sector funding in a context where investment value is falling?
Challenge 2: How can the charity and social enteprrise sectors deliver services to an increased set of beneficiaries efficiently and effectively?
Challenge 3: How can we help people in the many sectors (e.g hospitality, travel and leisure) that may never return to pre-COVID levels, leaving many millions unemployed, to transition to green economy jobs?
Challenge 4: How can we use innovative methods and technologies to support artists to directly cater to customers and generate a living previously earned through galleries, museums, theatres and music venues?
Challenge 5: How might we ensure human connection happens and provides solutions for sustainability and inclusive economies in a world of social distancing.
Theme: Build Back Better Education
There is growing understanding that the impact of COVID-19 on the education system has affected children and young people differently. Disadvantaged children have been disproportionately affected. Emerging research suggests the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their peers has been set back 10 years. There is also growing concern about the impact of the pandemic and the changes that have resulted on children’s mental health.With schools fighting to cope – trying to accommodate ever-changing requirements and protect the health and safety of their community – working to ensure every young person fulfils their potential seems like an enormous task. Teachers are expected to sort all the problems out, while navigating an unprecedented and challenging situation.
Many of the provisions in place are short term fixes. It is time to start focusing on longer term solutions that address the inequalities in the education system. As we build back a better education system, how can we find ways to optimise the experience for everyone, and ensure schools are not left to cope alone?
Subtopics: Formal and informal education, childcare (childminders, nursery etc), teaching, physical learning environments, digital exclusion, online education, virtual schools, inequality of access to education, mental health support for young people.
Challenge 1: How do we close the gap between those children that were able to thrive with remote learning and those that were not, especially in the face of the threat of a second Covid wave?
Challenge 2: How do we support students to learn to work more independently and take responsibility for their own learning, especially those that have struggled with that so far?
Challenge 3: How can we use technology to help educators provide better education in the coming 10 years?
Challenge 4: How can we design a feasible and enjoyable mixed (virtual and in person) model of education at both primary/secondary school and university level?
Challenge 5: How can we provide more flexible, work-learn education to promote equity and diversity in Higher Education?
Challenge 6: How can we acknowledge and accredit experiential learning (in diverse settings and contexts) to increase access to education and support life-long learning?
Build Back Better Social Care
Covid-19 has shone a rare bright light into social care, and found a wellspring of courage and compassion in a sector that is isolated, under-funded and shockingly under-appreciated. We must grasp this moment to improve the lot of the heroes providing care, and those who rely on it – those with personal, physical or mental health needs and their family and friends.As economic pressures threaten to further increase social exclusion, how can we reimagine the care sector, retaining its best qualities, and designing out the problems? How do we improve the status and recognition of care workers? How do we improve availability of social care for those who need it? How do we keep elderly people in their homes for longer while ensuring they are able to engage in mainstream society rather than left isolated or unsafe? How do we fund what has too long been treated as a Cinderella service despite our aging population?


Subtopics: Status and recognition of care workers, availability of care support for those who need it, care provision for the elderly, care provision for those with additional needs, costs and funding, integration of care into mainstream society, inequality.
Challenge 1: How can we ensure sufficient good quality staffing is available for the social care sector?
Challenge 2: How can we sustainably and fairly pay for adult social care for an aging population?
Challenge 3: How can we make it easier and more motivating for people to plan for their future care needs and understand their own or their parents choices before they hit a crisis where they have an immediate need?
Challenge 4: How can we reduce loneliness, now we all know what it feels like to be locked down?
Challenge 5: How can we help people maintain their independence and stay living in their homes for longer using Virtual Assistants, AI and Smart Homes technology?
Housing and Homelessness
Everyone needs a safe place to be. The more that place has to offer – sunlight, quiet, warmth, natural greenery, space, community, inspiration – the more it can nurture in an individual. The response to the pandemic proves that we can get everyone off the streets. Our ambitions moving forward must be so much more than that – how can we provide places for everyone to live that satisfy not only our basic requirements, but also nourish our higher psychological, even spiritual, needs and the realization of our full potential?
Subtopics: homelesseness prevention and support services, training and education for homeless people, integration into local communities, addiction support services, quality and availability of social housing, planning and local housing policy, funding for housing, quality living space.
Challenge 1: How can we create more secure and permanent housing options for those experiencing homelessness in light of a dramatically changing property market?
Challenge 2: How can we ensure that people who have experienced a change in financial circumstance due to COVID-19 (loss of income, made redundant) are safeguarded against homelessness, eviction or binding or costly housing agreements?
Challenge 3: How might we ensure that those who are experiencing homelessness/insecure housing are able to create and maintain ties with their communities?