Last December Ordnance Survey, with support from Southern Water, United Utilities, the Environment Agency and The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), launched its latest Geovation Challenge, asking developers and start-ups for sustainable ideas that improve how Britain manages its water use.
The Challenge attracted a total of 51 ideas, from which ten finalists were selected and invited to pitch their ideas to secure extra support and funding through the Geovation Programme.
Refillable Cities: Natalie Fee, Olivia Drake, Thomas Bell and Gus Hoyt aim to reduce dependency on plastic bottled water with a nationwide roll out of an app that pinpoints users to free tap water refill points. The app will capture data and encourage behaviour change through rewards and points that can be exchanged for money off vouchers.
Sustainable Catchments: Steve Buss and Mark Fermor’s idea is to create building models of sustainable catchment opportunities, which will #slowtheflow of flooding. The team, who have catchment expertise and experience in building models, will make information available via subscription or one off reports.
Fix Our Water: Morag and Craig Embleton’s smartphone crowdsourcing app lets users inform relevant authorities about water problems, including pollution, flooding, overflowing drains and breach hotspots.
Viv Alexander, Geovation Challenge Producer, says: “For us it is exciting to see people using datasets to create solutions that benefit the wider community. The response to the Water Challenge has been very encouraging, and again the standard has been extremely high, once more making it difficult for the judges.
“Geovation and OS are proud to support these three new start-up companies with funding and business expertise, helping them turn their ideas into commercial ventures. We were also delighted to have had the opportunity to collaborate on this with Southern Water, United Utilities, the Environment Agency and DEFRA whose release of open datasets coincided with the launch of the challenge.”
Alison Hoyle, Head of Strategic Planning at Southern Water, says: “We’re looking forward to collaborating and developing new ideas and solutions to the challenges we face now and in the future. The Geovation Challenge has provided a great opportunity to highlight in detail the specific challenges the Water industry face and to set out how innovation might help. It’s also really exciting to have access to the cutting-edge ideas developing between science, technology, engineering and geography, and to see how these new start-ups can help provide solutions to the water challenges facing the UK.”
Kieran Brocklebank, Head of Innovation, and Geoff Cooper-Smith, Innovation Strategy Manager, at United Utilities were extremely impressed with both the organisation and support associated with the Geovation process and the variety of solutions proposed.
Kieran explains: “We found participation in the ‘Boot Camp’ to be an interesting, busy, rewarding and most enjoyable weekend and came away encouraged by the effort and devotion of all the participants. OS and Geovation are to be congratulated on providing such a fantastic framework to help us select and launch three new start-up companies.”
Chris Parker, Ordnance Survey’s Geovation Challenge Manager, says: “Geovation is a test of resilience and the ability to tackle real issues head on, an important point made obvious to everyone when just after the launch of this Challenge areas of Britain suffered terrible flooding and the problems that occur when there is too much water. What we look for from these challenges are ideas that can work locally and have the potential to be scaled globally. We shall be launching another Challenge later this year.
Since 2009 Geovation has created 31 new ventures and given almost £750,000 in development funding. All challenges seek to address specific needs within communities and to build resilience in response.
About Ordnance Survey
As Britain’s mapping agency, Ordnance Survey makes the most up-to-date and accurate digital and paper maps of the country. Each day OS makes over 10,000 changes to its database of more than 450 million geographic features. Since 1791 OS content has been used to help governments, companies and individuals work more effectively both here and around the world. The information OS gathers helps keep the nation, economy and infrastructure moving.