19th October 2016

Underground Assets Challenge: Launched


Over the last few months, Geovation has worked with the utility industry to identify their biggest challenges in managing our underground assets. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an innovator or a developer we’re now inviting you to come up with solutions to tackle these real-world problems using location data.

As a result of consultations with senior figures from utility companies, the owners of underground pipe and cable networks, and those responsible for their maintenance, 55 problem areas have been brought to the surface. These have been grouped into 4 themes: Asset Location, Asset Management & Maintenance, Stakeholder Impact and Predicting Asset Future

Underground train line

It is thought that through improved asset management and operations and the digitisation of records, production could be increased by 15% and profitability by 20-30%. Also revealed was the value of sharing data between utility companies and innovators to effectively resolve problems.

We are all familiar with disruptions caused by utility companies excavating paths and roads. What is not realised is that 10% of these excavations are just for exploratory purposes, attempting to locate where assets actually are. It is estimated that the impact of this alone costs Britain around £5.5 billion per year.

Group discussion on table

What are we looking for?

We are looking for businesses or ventures who are developing a well scoped, sustainable solution and business model and we are interested in how these ideas and ventures can potentially scale to offer solutions throughout Britain or even globally, using geographic information, design thinking and technology as key ingredients.

Northern Gas Network’s Head of Innovation & Energy Futures, Andrew Irwin, says: “Providing a clear view of what’s underneath our footpaths and highways to those companies that have to excavate in them will make it safer for the operatives involved, less disruptive for the customer and more efficient for the company. It is a win – win for everyone involved.”

Through this Geovation Challenge we want to support entrepreneurs and connect them to industry players with very real needs. Many utility companies have offered us the opportunity to work openly with them and we are excited to explore how GeoTech will enable innovative solutions to the problems they have identified.

Geovation merchandise

How do I get involved? 

To find out more about the problems giving utility, telecoms and water companies sleepless nights visit the Challenge page. We’ll also be kicking off with a webinar Thursday 20 October, 10:30 – 11:00, introducing the power of geography in problem-solving which you can sign-up to here.

Attend one of our National Workshops

We are running a national tour of workshops to introduce you to the principles helpful to accelerating your idea proposition. At the workshops we’ll help you understand the problem areas of this challenge and will introduce you to the power of geographical thinking, geospatial data and important principles of lean business and service design. These principles will help elevate your idea submission and will be required when you progress your idea into a prototype venture at Geovation Camp, and when building your product, service and business beyond.

Register here: London // Manchester // Newport // Glasgow



The Challenge is open to UK-based organisations or residents, aged 18 or over.