4th December 2017

Let the Geovation Challenge Judging Begin


Thank you all for responding to our call to help make our communities greener and smarter in our latest Geovation Challenge. There have been some great ideas submitted between 4 October and 29 November 2016 and thanks again go to those that have registered and engaged in the Geovation Ideas Platform.

Written by Sasha Catchpole

Now that the Geovation Challenge is closed, the judging panel will begin to look through the submitted ideas and select winners to invite to a 3-day Geovation Camp and Conference at the Royal Geographical Society from 14-16 February 2018. See the timetable here. We are delighted to be supported by our sponsors Innovate UK and Northumbrian Water Group. We’re offering the winners an all-expenses-paid place at this mini startup accelerator and conference, worth up to £8K per team, equipping them with all the knowledge and skills needed to begin their start-up journey. See more about why Innovate UK and Northumbrian Water Group are supporting the challenge.

Even if you are not successful this time around, remember to register for our Geovation Conference on the 16 February – come along and continue the conversation with thought-leaders, (social) entrepreneurs, policymakers and change-makers from the public, private, academic and third sectors. Together, let’s “Think globally, act locally and scale sustainably”.

The judging panel will be looking for ideas that offer innovative solutions to the problems that our communities and cities face, and which can ultimately become commercially sustainable business ventures. They’ll be looking in particular for those solutions that are focussing on the core areas of how we improve health and wellbeing, support the local economy, enhance the natural environment and enable sustainable living, and can demonstrate that their ideas will use geographical information, technology and good design as the building blocks of their venture. Those ideas that are successful will be able to show that they have done their research and know their problem inside out – and ultimately how they will deliver value to the user or customer.


Meet the Judging Panel

Alex Wrottesley – Head of Geovation

With 18 years’ experience running media and technology businesses, Alex and his team help entrepreneurs and innovators create, build and grow new ventures that use spatial data and insight to deliver ground-breaking products and services. The Geovation Hub aims to deliver a new approach to stimulating growth in the geospatial industry by offering hands on support, education, workspace and development resource in a world-class location.



Dr. Alison Prendiville – 

We are delighted to welcome back to the judging panel Dr Alison Prendiville, whose expertise is in Design and Service Design has built her internationally recognised reputation as a researcher and academic leader. She was formerly Course Director for the MDes Service Design Innovation at LCC/UAL, focusing on the role of design as a catalyst for multi-disciplinary team working, particularly within the areas of healthcare and societal challenges. She’s an expert in the fields of service design, digital anthropology, creative economies and connected communities. Her PhD (2001) investigated the specification of engineering hardware in the design of public transport systems and the design of the passenger service experience, and she was a researcher on the EU Framework IV Programme MIMIC (Modality, Inter-modality and Interchange) investigating transport interchanges and the barriers to the seamless journey. She is an Associate of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the RSA.

Clive Surman-Wells – Operations Solutions Manager, Northumbrian Water Group

Clive has worked for Northumbrian Water Group for 11 years and currently manages GIS & Positioning, Asset Systems and Operational Technology as Operational Solutions Manager.  After studying Surveying Science at Newcastle upon Tyne, Clive started his career as a land surveyor before moving into mainstream IT/IS with manufacturers Nissan Yamato, Silentnight Furniture, Mi-King and Philips Components.  He also spent time in project management with British Airways and in Business Solutions with Sunderland Council before coming full circle back into the world of GIS.


Julie Procter – CEO, Greenspace Scotland

With over 25 years’ experience working in the environmental sector, she is passionate about the importance of greenspace close to where people live and the many benefits it delivers for people, places and communities.  Julie led the development of the first greenspace scotland map in 2011 and project managed the Scottish partnership working with Ordnance Survey to develop the new OS Greenspace products. greenspace Scotland is Scotland’s parks and greenspace charity working towards the goal that everyone living and working in urban Scotland should have easy access to quality greenspace which meets local needs and improves their quality of life. Current greenspace scotland programmes include: Young Placechangers, Climate Change Parks, Tesco Bags of Help community grants, ParkPower, food growing strategies, and MyParkScotland – Scotland’s only crowdfunding platform specifically for parks and greenspaces.

Niraj Saraf – Urban Innovation Lead, Innovate UK

Niraj brings to this 25 years’ experience of policy and strategy development, and programme management across public, private, and voluntary sector organisations in the UK and internationally.  Since joining Innovate UK, Niraj has: invested in projects making innovative use of integrated city data; co-designed and funded a competition for placemaking projects; lead international entrepreneur missions; and designed and facilitated events aimed at advancing knowledge and understanding in the field of urban innovation. Niraj started his first business venture at the age of 13 and in 2005, helped launch a proper startup, making him the ideal candidate to help decide the winners of this challenge.


The winners who are selected will be informed by 18 December and we’ll announce this on the blog in the following week. Those winners invited to attend the Geovation Camp will have the opportunity to progress their idea to a developed business venture, supported by a range of industry professionals. Winners will have access to mentors, business advisors and designers, all passionate about helping you get ready to pitch for grant funding or a place on Ordnance Survey’s start-up accelerator, the Geovation Programme, at the Conference on Day 3. The judging panel will then select those winners whose ideas are identified as having the potential to make the greatest impact.

Innovate UK, our lead sponsors in this Challenge, are providing Geovation with £250,000, of which £185K in grant awards will be available to the winners whose ideas are identified as having the potential to make the greatest impact. This money will help develop, launch and scale those ventures selected. Through funding or a place on the Geovation Programme we support you every step of the journey, to learn the essential skills and gain experience, until you’re ready to spread your wings as a fully-fledged start-up.

Good luck to all those that submitted their ideas – watch this space for the judging announcement in a few weeks’ time.