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Science & Technology Series: Research Spotlight

City spin-out wins Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge to counter violent extremism online

Raven Science, created by Professor Tom Chen, beat out over 120 entrants to win the competition.
by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)

Raven Science, a spin-out company created by Professor of Cyber Security, Professor Tom Chen, to find, classify and analyse extremist videos online, emerged one of two winners of the Mayor of London's 2020 Civic Innovation Challenge for countering violent extremism online.

Raven Science and 3D Repo beat out over 125 entrants to win the competition, and will each receive a contract valued at £40k.

Raven Science will work with the Metropolitan Police Service to develop their proposals to counter violent extremism online, by piloting a smartphone app to allow the public to refer the police to online extremist materials, while maintaining anonymity.

This will complement the Mayor of London’s ongoing work in this area, which includes recently launching a new £800,000 fund – with support from Google’s philanthropic arm – to empower communities to tackle violent extremism and fight intolerance across the capital.

The app is based on an anonymous messaging protocol invented at City.

Through the Cyber ASAP, an Innovate UK academic start-up accelerator programme, Professor Chen has developed the minimum viable product, Raven, an intelligent web crawling system for finding, identifying, and analysing extremist videos using advanced machine learning techniques.

Professor Chen is grateful to Brigita Jurisic and Powlami Ghosh, in City's Research & Enterprise Office, for their assistance in securing this win.


The Mayor of London's 2020 Civic Innovation Challenge is delivered in partnership with Microsoft and the Social Tech Trust.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London,said:

London is one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world – but we face some significant challenges. My flagship tech scheme – the Civic Innovation Challenge – is a unique opportunity for London’s best and brightest tech companies to tackle some of the capital’s most pressing problems. I’m so impressed with the high calibre of entrants this year and the standard of competition means I’m sure we’ll see some really exciting projects taken to the next level – including by gaining feedback directly from Londoners themselves. It’s only through the public and private sector working together that we’ll come up with the best ideas we need to help improve Londoners’ lives the future.

Programme Development Manager at Social Tech Trust, Anne Radl, said“What I love about the Civic Innovation Challenge has helped some of London’s most ambitious tech startups take a people-centred approach to make a lasting change in their communities, while expanding their business opportunities at the same time.

“The results have been inspiring – living proof we can shape tech to deliver the future we all want to see.  Congratulations to the winners and to all organisations that took part in the programme.”

For more on Raven Science, please visit this weblink.

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