21st November 2013

So you’re a GeoVation winner, now what?

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If you’re thinking of entering the latest GeoVation Challenge to encourage active lifestyles, the guest blog post below from Richard Page, one of the winners of the Environment GeoVation Challenge,  may help answer your questions about what happens if you’re lucky enough to be a GeoVation winner.

Winning the GeoVation Challenge is a fantastic feeling.  I should know, as I was oPhoto of Carbon Prophet winners of Environment Challenge ne of the winners of the Environment Challenge earlier this year. To be honest when this was announced at the end of GeoVation Camp, I thought that’s it, I’ve won, now give me the money! The truth is that what goes on after the announcement of your success is as important, and in some respects more important, than what went on before, only nobody tells you that;  well, until now that is.

So what happens after the announcement at GeoVation Camp has been made?

You know you’re a winner and that you are going to get some money, but how much, when and what do you have to do access it? The answer is that this is just the start of your journey. There is a venture plan to write, and more, before you receive your funding. That can take around 12 weeks in all and you really need this time to get yourself organised.

A few days after GeoVation Camp when I was back in my office, still inordinately pleased with myself for winning, an email from Viv Alexander popped into my inbox. Along with congratulations, she sent details of the next stage in the process. This was to write a venture plan, to a standard format, and submit it to the judges a couple of weeks later. In it I must go into much greater detail of exactly how my project will work, its time scale, milestones and exactly how I will spend the money. Once submitted it will be circulated to all the judges who will assess it at a meeting and make the final decision on the allocation of funds. There will then be a phone call letting me know how much funding I have won.

(My advice, if you get to this stage, is get the plan written as soon as possible and leave yourself plenty of time for revision. Remember, you may not get all that you have asked for so this plan needs to be flexible enough to cope with differing levels of funding.)

While I was waiting for the phone call from Roland Harwood, Chair of the judging panel, for news of the funding I was going to receive,  I wondered how to spend the intervening hours and, more importantly, what telephone voice to use? So I got the call and the news that I would receive £30,000 including the £1000 Community Prize, voted on by the participants at GeoVation Camp. A substantial amount to get me started with my venture.

There was quite a bit more to the call but to be honest most of it didn’t register. Luckily both Roland and Viv followed up with emails, which were great for my failing memory. Next to complete an expenditure and deliverables plan in advance of a visit to Ordnance Survey head office in Southampton scheduled for  the end of August

Even though I knew that there was more to do, I still had it in the back of my head that I would turn up with an empty bag, fill it with crisp £5 notes and disappear into the sunset, ever grateful for the competition!  Others, however, had different expectations. Happily though, after a full day of meetings, interviews, presentations and a very palatable lunch, the deliverables plan was agreed, the contracts were signed, and the funds were now imminent.

As an aside, the day also included a tour of the facility and a chance to talk with some extremely clever people doing some amazing things with maps and computer technology. Take the time and get the most out of this opportunity; it’s well worth it!

The first tranche of funding went into my account a few weeks later and I immediately put it to work. Computer technology was purchased, contracts for the building of a website were allocated and the search for trial sites began. Since then I have travelled some 3000 miles visiting potential trial sites, I’ve had meetings with government agencies and written press releases, articles and blogs. Later this month I will be presenting my project at Parliament, to a government minister and I will be interviewed for radio.

Over the next few months I will be continuing to progress my project and although I have a plan of action, given my experience so far I now know to expect the unexpected. This is a result of one of the unadvertised benefits of taking part in the challenge and that is the opportunity to network. The money is great and winning is a fantastic feeling but one of the unintended consequences of promoting your project is that if others can see an opportunity that you may not have recognised or have a new slant on your project, they will promote it for you. This has certainly happened to my project.

Overall I have nothing but positives to say about the whole process. The people, those at the Ordnance Survey and GeoVation, those taking part in the challenge and those who came along to judge or to help were all fantastic and I would like to say a special thank you to all of them. So, good luck with your ideas and I hope that you win.

Give the challenge a try – you never know where it may lead!

Richard Page

So, if you’re ready to get started on the journey and  you have an idea that could encourage people to get active, have a look at some of the problems we identified and  enter the GeoVation Challenge online . The challenge runs to 8 January 2014 and the best ideas will be selected to receive a share of £100, 000 in funding to develop their business ventures.