Digital & IT

Published: August 6, 2020 | Updated: August 6, 2020

Tech startup wins £50,000 funding to develop pioneering online childcare information service

Carole Ward and Gary Todd, Co-founders of Famiio.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A tech startup has won funding from the UK’s innovation agency to develop a pioneering online childcare information service.

Famiio has been awarded a £50,000 grant by Innovate UK to build and pilot a new online localgov childcare platform over the next six months.

The Bournemouth-based developer was awarded funding after a highly-competitive process attracted more than 8,600 applications from across the country.

The Famiio platform will help all parents and families to find childcare information in one place, making the process of organising childcare, to meet their needs, quicker, easier and less stressful.

For local authorities it will bring up-to-date information, effective monitoring and reporting through a common platform, offering both cost and time savings.

The platform will also enable childcare providers to promote their services and facilities in a more consistent way to parents.

Gary Todd, Famiio Founder and CEO, said: “We are very excited to receive Innovate UK funding.

“To be selected from such a high volume of applications is confirmation of the clear need for greater digital innovation and resilience in the childcare sector during the pandemic recovery.

“With this award, we will pioneer a smarter, more flexible connected solution for the future.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has raised serious issues around childcare.

According to the British Medical Association: “Covid-19 and the government measures introduced to tackle the virus have had a significant impact on childcare.

“Many doctors and other NHS staff have seen their usual forms of childcare breakdown.

“With at least 57 per cent of early years childcare settings currently closed, we do not have enough childcare provision for critical workers.”

Childcare providers have been significantly impacted.

Many have already stated in a national survey that they will not reopen after lockdown, creating a shortfall in available childcare at a crucial time for parents.

The survey was carried out by PACEY – the Professional Association for Childcare & Early Years.

Research shows that 65 per cent of grandparents provide some form of childcare in the UK.

While they remain ‘at-risk’ from Covid-19, it further increases pressure on the childcare system.

Lack of access to available childcare poses a barrier to parents returning to work and threatens employment levels and UK economic recovery.

Famiio was founded by Gary and Carole Ward.

Both have a wealth of experience within the public sector, previously working with the Department for Education on national data projects and as former frontline local authority managers.

Famiio is working with its local Enterprise Europe Network advisor for innovation support services to assist with the project and maximise commercial opportunities.

The company also received bid-writing assistance via the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Famiio is now welcoming expressions of interest in the pilot project from local authorities seeking innovative solutions to the childcare challenge.