22nd February 2010

GeoVation award winners scoop prize fund

Viv Alexander

Following a day of high drama at London’s Royal Geographical Society, Rowena Wells and Ann Jones have been named the winners of the GeoVation Awards Programme.

The Wales-based entrepreneurs took the main prize of £11,000 for their venture called MaxiMap, a giant floor map to help get schoolchildren excited about learning geography. They successfully convinced the judges that their start-up business would benefit most from the seed funding. There was also recognition for runners-up Mission:Explore London, which received £7,000, and London Blue Plaques, which received £3,000.

On being declared the winner of the Ordnance Survey-supported initiative, Ann Jones commented: “We feel absolutely blessed. There was such steep competition, we’re genuinely astonished to have won. I’m flabbergasted! This is going to mean such a lot to the project. It’ll help us get it off the ground and allow more schools to hear about MaxiMap and what it can do.”

Each of the nine finalists were given four minutes to pitch to a panel of expert judges and explain why their geography-based idea deserved to be awarded part of the development fund. One of the judges, Gary Gale, Director of Engineering for Yahoo! Geo Technologies, said: “The standard of entries was fantastic and the scope of them far-reaching and varied. Each of the finalists can and should be proud of getting to the finals and being able to showcase their geo-vision. But in the end, the judges decided that MaxiMap was the one idea that could make the most impact and had the greatest potential.”

The GeoVation Awards Programme was launched in October 2009 with the aim of helping people, communities and businesses bring their map-based ideas to life for the benefit of society. Since then, the scheme has attracted over 300 members and generated more than 220 ideas or ventures.

John Abbott of Ordnance Survey, one of the GeoVation Champions, added: “We launched GeoVation because we believe that geography can play an important part in addressing some big challenges. It’s very exciting that such brilliant ideas have now been given the means to bring their projects to life. Our team are all looking forward to helping them to succeed over the next few months.”

Over the course of the day £750 was raised for MapAction, the charity that helps provide geographic information in the aftermath of a disaster. They are currently deployed in Haiti supporting the relief effort.