A TECH firm has beaten almost 9,000 competitors for the chance to pilot a new online platform that will make it easier to organise childcare.

Poole-based Famiio will build an online platform for local government over the next six months after being awarded a £50,000 grant from the innovation agency Innovate UK.

It won a competitive process which attracted more than 8,600 application from across the UK.

The Famiio platform is intended to make it quicker and easier for families to find childcare. It will also bring local authorities up to date information and allow childcare providers to promote themselves more consistently.

The British Medical Association said recently: “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.”

Famiio founder and chief executive Gary Todd 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.”

Childcare providers have been hard hit by the lockdown. A survey carried out by the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) found many would not reopen after lockdown, raising the threat of a shortage of care at a crucial time for parents.

Research shows 65 per cent of grandparents provide some form of childcare – and with older people at greater risk from Covid-19, the childcare system could be under greater pressure.

Famiio is was founded by Gary Todd and Carole Ward, who both have a background in the public sector. They have worked with the Department for Education on national data projects and were formerly frontline local authority managers.

As well as the grant from government-funded Innovate UK, they have received support from the Innovate2Succeed programme delivered by Enterprise Europe Network.

The company is working with its local Enterprise Europe Network adviser and received bid-writing assistance via Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership. It is welcoming expressions of interest in the pilot project from local authorities.