Seven start-ups left the inaugural Geovation Conference with a share of £150,000 in funding after impressing judges at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
Entrepreneurs pitched a diverse selection of ideas aimed at solving sustainability problems in the UK, in front of a packed house of experts, investors and pioneers.
Combating increasing rents that squeeze out nurses and teachers from living close to hospitals and schools, boosting retailers on local high streets, reducing plastic found around Britain’s streets and natural environment, safer spaces around the school gates, and tackling isolation and loneliness were among the issues addressed.
Judges awarded funds for seven out of 10 ideas, which they believed had the most potential to succeed as a sustainable business model.
The winners can now call upon the support of a network of experienced software developers, Ordnance Survey geospatial experts, Land Registry experts, and Geovation mentors to accelerate and scale their projects.
Full list of Geovation 2018 winners:
£50,000 – WareHAUS (Farnham, Surrey). Turning empty industrial buildings/shops/offices into affordable pod homes for key workers who cannot afford to rent or buy property near hospitals, schools, police stations etc. The pods can be installed or removed quickly, and reassembled elsewhere. Key workers will live in them on short term contracts, tied in to the lease of rented industrial units/warehouses. Once the lease has run out, the building reverts to its original use.
WareHAUS will use OS data to build a mapping application to identify suitable sites, communication links, and ease of access.
£20,000 – OFFiGO (Blackpool, Lancashire). A marketing website and app so businesses in the same high street/area can share daily offers, events and services to consumers. Scheme is designed to help revitalise high streets.
£20,000 – Portable Ecosystems (Aberdeen). A complete ecosystem which can be transported around easily. Portable Ecosystems will use the funding to build two prototype units.
£20,000 – The Happy Crocodile (East Leake, Nottinghamshire). A service for schools and parents that combines ‘Walking School bus’, ‘Park and Stride’ and car-pooling schemes to help improve safety outside school gates. The project will take OS data and use it to analyse the school run.
£30,000 (£15,000 each) – Kids Against Plastic (Nottingham)/Plastic Patrol (Croydon). Kids Against Plastic works with local businesses, cafes, schools, etc to reduce their use of unnecessary plastic items. Plastic Patrol uses geo-mapping to identify sources of plastic pollution.
Both projects were given funding to work together to make a prototype data platform and a structure for capturing data which can be used by communities.
£10,000 – Community Friend Walks (Norwich, Norfolk). A walking group scheme, including dementia walks and companion walks, which matches people with local knowledge of walks with those that have inactive lifestyles. The award will fund a trial pilot of the scheme.
Teams spent two days prior to the conference working with Geovation experts, refining their ideas, before pitching to the judges.
Head of Geovation Alex Wrottesley said: “We’ve had some fantastic teams at this year’s conference.
“There’s been a high-quality calibre with real passions to solve problems and we are looking forward to working with them to take it forwards.
“We’re here to help. Geovation surrounds them with useful expertise, people who can say ‘this will work technically’ or ‘this is the business model you will find most useful.’
“If we can provide them with access to technology, to tools and to expertise, then we can create innovation that works.”
Speaking about overall winners WareHaus, Alex said: “Housing is such a critical and timely issue right now and there is a lot of questions about how we convert and maintain commercial and residential space in cities.
“If we can help to house our key workers close to where they work it will benefit all of us.”