INNOVATIVE Berkshire businesses are being called on to develop internet of things (IoT) solutions to tackle real challenges faced by local authorities in the delivery of their services.

The £400,000 Challenge Fund Call is part of the Thames Valley Berkshire Smart City Cluster project, led by Reading Borough Council, with partner authorities, Wokingham, West Berkshire and Bracknell Forest Councils.

The two-year project, which is funded by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is delivering state of the art IoT communications across the region.

This first call consists of four challenges, focusing on tackling loneliness; reducing falls in the elderly; supporting independence in travel and targeting investment to improve energy efficiency in homes.

Each challenge will involve a development and pilot phase so that the benefits can be evaluated and knowledge can be shared as these are common challenges faced by councils across the UK.

Grants of up to £100,000 are available for each challenge.

Speaking about the Challenge Call, Nick Carter, chief executive of West Berkshire Council, said: "We are proud to be part of this Smart Cities project with our neighbouring authorities as it is helping to deliver evidence-based technological solutions to local government service delivery.

"West Berkshire's Challenge, which was developed by Public Health colleagues, is to develop an IoT solution to prevent falls which are an important issue, not just for our own adult social care team, but also for our partners, such as the NHS.

"We hope that West Berkshire businesses will come along to the information event and partner with us on an exciting initiative which will benefit some of our most vulnerable residents."