25th April 2019

Geovation evolves

Joss Harris

As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, we wanted to look back on how far Geovation has come. As we’ve become bigger, we have looked at different ways to improve and change our ways of working. This year we mark a significant change in structure which will mean we no longer run Geovation Challenges.

Between 2009 – 2018 we ran 11 Challenges. Each of the Challenges was themed and focused on global issues such as water, housing, active lifestyles, transport, underground assets and greener, smarter, communities.

With a growing global population and increased demand on a finite amount of resources, we all, as individuals, public, private and third sector organisations, must reassess the way we do things. The essence of the Geovation Challenge lay in responding to these global challenges by using the power of location and geospatial data and entrepreneurial thinking in tackling them.

When it comes to tackling these issues, geography and geographic information are key ingredients in connecting people, places, processes and the planet. It was always our intention that those entering our Challenges should think globally and act locally, using location information and technology to design smarter, sustainable processes, solutions and business models. Our hope was these could eventually be scaled up and adopted in other places, towns and cities, or even other countries.

From the start our ethos has always been to innovate openly and collaboratively, and our Challenges facilitated this, focussing on building local resilience within communities against real problems that needed collaboration and design thinking across all sectors of the economy (public, private, civil society and individuals).  We ran Deep Dives ahead of the Challenge to identify the key problems entrants should focus on and structured the Challenge accordingly. We then opened the Challenges to entrepreneurs, developers, community groups, government organisations and individuals, asking them to concentrate on finding innovative ways of using geographic information, including open data, and technology, to build solutions which would generate social, economic and environmental value.

During the 11 Geovation Challenges, we grew our online community to 3065 people, 1010 people participated in the 43 workshops and masterclasses we ran, we received over 800 ideas,  and 110 people took part in 10 Geovation Camps, where participants developed their early stage ideas into prototype ventures using our “Innovation = Problem x Solution x Execution” methodology. In all, 42 Geovation Challenge winners have shared £871,000 in funding, or have gained a place on Geovation’s Accelerator Programme.

Since opening the Geovation Hub in 2015, we realised we could help more start-ups and better support geospatial innovation through the facilities and expertise available in the Geovation Accelerator Programme which currently has two intakes a year.  This also means we can play a bigger role in supporting OS and the Government’s commitment to unlocking the hidden value of geospatial data.  Consequently, we decided last year to close the Geovation Challenge and focus our resources on the Accelerator Programme, through which we can still tackle the global challenges we need to address.

We have created a booklet to tell the story of our Geovation Challenges and the achievements of its winners. Their commitment, enthusiasm and ideas continue to inspire today as they launch and scale their new, innovative, sustainable ventures.

Want to know more? Read the booklet here.