Tag Archives: challenge

Why Northumbrian Water Group are sponsoring the Geovation Challenge

Northumbrian Water Group are sponsoring the Geovation Greener Smarter Communities Challenge. Clive Surman-Wells, Operational Solutions Manager, explains why they wanted to get involved with this Challenge and the impact they hope your ideas will make. Read his blog below and don’t delay in entering your idea – the closing date is 29 November!

Northumbrian Water Group decided to sponsor the Greener, Smarter Communities and Cities Challenge because we had a taster of Geovation at NWG’s Festival of Innovation in July 2017 and we liked the process. Being an innovative company, we know converting great ideas into a reality is the toughest part of the innovation process and we feel the Geovation process really helped us develop our ideas at the festival.  Enhancing the environment and our communities is part of our corporate vision so it’s natural that we’d want to support those developing ideas that can help us improve too.

Northumbrian Water logoWe’re currently working on a project ourselves coming out of our Festival of Innovation in July. The project, code named ‘BreathEasy’, uses the qualities of MOSS to improve air quality and we hope to use this in future to reduce our impact on the environment.

Northumbrian Water Group will be looking for innovative ideas which are able to launch and scale sustainably. We’ll be looking for these key criteria:

  • Originality – it must be innovative
  • Alignment with one of the themes – will it enhance the natural environment for instance?
  • Genuinely make a difference – it has to work for people, it’s got to be practical.


Got an idea?

If you’re sitting on a great idea but haven’t done anything about it because you’re not sure where to start then from our experience the Geovation process a great opportunity to convert ideas into a reality, supported by a great process, surrounded by other innovative thinkers.

 Clive Surman-Wells, Northumbrian Water Group

Enter the Geovation Challenge todayNot only will you get to tap into resource from 225-year-old mapping organisation, Ordnance Survey, you’ll receive expert advice from some of our leading business professionals on how to apply a proven innovation methodology to your ideas, in hope to build, launch and scale them – potentially globally. Winners of the Challenge will get an all-expenses-paid place at our 3-day mini-accelerator Geovation Camp and Conference in London in February 2018, worth up to £8K You’ll connect with smart, passionate people and test your idea with mentors, business advisors and designers in the ideal environment for it to flourish and grow.

At the Conference on Day 3, you’ll be ready to pitch succinctly and convincingly to investors, funders, sponsors, policy-makers and community leaders and if your idea has the potential to make the greatest impact – you’ll have the opportunity gain grant funding from a pot of £185K or a place on Ordnance Survey’s start-up accelerator, the Geovation Programme. Don’t miss out on this fabulous experience – enter the Geovation Challenge!

To enter visit: https://geovation.uk/challenge/

The Challenge runs until 29 November 2017 and is open to UK-based organisations or residents, aged 18 or over. The Geovation Camp and Conference takes place in London in 14-16 February 2018.

Innovate UK providing a share of £185,000 funding for Geovation ventures

Innovate UK are lead sponsors of the Geovation Greener, Smarter Communities Challenge 2017. Niraj Saraf, Urban Innovation Lead at Innovate UK announces funding available to winners of the Geovation Challenge whose ideas we identify as having the potential to make the greatest impact. 

Innovate UK’s mission is to help the UK economy grow by inspiring and supporting pioneering UK businesses to create the industries of the future. We do this through funding risky innovation projects and through connecting innovators to opportunities and resources, and my role within the organisation is very much about helping businesses develop new solutions to the complex challenges facing cities.

Innovate UK logo

Like Ordnance Survey and Geovation, we recognise that good ideas and data to help cities overcome their challenges do not exist solely in one organisation, but in many different places. This is why we are very pleased to be collaborating with Geovation to seek ideas that can help give us smarter, greener communities.

It also gives me enormous pleasure to announce that Innovate UK is to provide additional funding for Geovation’s greener, smarter communities challenge. We’re providing Geovation with £250,000, of which £185K in grant awards will be available to the winners whose ideas we identify as having the potential to make the greatest impact. This money will help them develop, launch and scale their sustainable ventures.

Innovate UK has a strong track record in driving growth. For every business we have invested in, 7 jobs have been created (we’ve created more than 55,000 jobs). There has been up to £7:30 gross value added (GVA) for every pound we have invested, and our return to the economy has been £13.1bn.

You’ve probably already heard the prediction that by 2050 75% of our global population, around 9bn people, will be living in cities. This will be close to a doubling of the current urban population, which makes the Geovation challenge even more pertinent and pressing.

It’s true that a growing population can contribute to a growing economy, but does that necessarily equate to a better quality of life? What about the environmental impact? How will cities whose infrastructure is already struggling today cope? What of resilience – and not just to extreme weather, but also to disease epidemics. These are just some of the important challenges we face moving forward.

Geovation is a fantastic initiative for Innovate UK to support, and I am sure this current Challenge will deliver some interesting and exciting projects.

Enter the Geovation Challenge today – winners of the Geovation Challenge will receive an all-expenses paid place at a 3-day mini-accelerator Geovation Camp and Conference in London in February 2018. Here you’ll connect with smart, passionate people and test your idea with mentors, business advisors and designers in the ideal environment for it to flourish and grow.

On Day 3, you’ll be ready to pitch to investors, funders, sponsors, policy-makers and community leaders, and you’ll also have the opportunity to gain grant funding from a pot of £185K or a place on Ordnance Survey’s start-up accelerator, the Geovation Programme. Don’t miss out on this fabulous experience – ENTER THE GEOVATION CHALLENGE NOW


Join the sustainable revolution with Al Gore

6th– 9th November 2017 saw the humungous gathering in Lisbon, Portugal, of over 60,000 people from over 170 countries, for one of the world’s largest technology conferences, Web Summit.

Creators, entrepreneurs, researchers, enablers and others from many different walks of life flocked to share and explore how technology can be used to solve some of our world’s greatest challenges. More than 1,000 phenomenal speakers took to stage to discuss technologies from blockchain and virtual and augmented reality, to robots and quantum computing, in addressing matters including food production, mobility, waste, health, income security, fashion, culture and climate change.

A strong international appetite came through for how we can use technology to better impact our societies and environment positively – particularly, in transforming our cities and industry to be greener and smarter tomorrow. This is what the Geovation Greener, Smarter Communities and Cities Challenge is all about tackling!

Mixed with great entrepreneurial spirit – with a massive number of social and environmental enterprise start-ups attending the conference (and those thinking to be!) – this certainly got cooking many incredible ideas!

Influential stakeholders now recognise the world has finite resources and along with the–power of the people, are raising their voices to support a ‘circular economy’ approach. This  transcends our traditional “take, make and dispose” industrial model to one that is restorative and regenerative of our natural resources – for us to achieve sustainable societies.

“You can’t separate environmental, social and economic issues” – Kathleen McLaughlin, Chief Sustainability Officer & President, Walmart Foundation, Walmart

“Markets will eventually value green as going green will eventually be a key driver of growth” – Peter Lacy, Global Managing Director – Growth, Strategy and Sustainability, Accenture

“The green business is the good business and you can at the same time, make money and do good” – António Guterres, United Nations Secretary General

“There is only one resource that is not constrained in the world and that is YOU!” – Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental & Cities Strategist, Microsoft

The question now, for tech innovators – is: how can our new technologies play a part in smartly helping us achieve these goals?

For the Geovation Challenge, our question is: rather than diminishing our natural green, blue and grey assets, how can we use them far more effectively to build greener, smarter communities and cities? And how can location data and technology be used as ingredients to help achieve this?

With continuous interest at Web Summit in tech enterprises becoming more purpose-driven, Al Gore – former Vice President of USA, now chairman of Generation Investment Management and famously known for his activist campaign ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ – brought this motivation inspiringly home. Speaking at the close of Web Summit, Al Gore openly recruited the tech innovation community to help drive the “Sustainable Revolution” in solution to the climate crisis, which is so intricately linked with other issues in society.

We’ve got the problems (there are plenty of them! – see the full Geovation Challenge problem themes), we’ve got powerful tech that could be ideal tools for building a solution; how do we now fix these problems to solutions and execute them? What data about where people and things are, and where events happen, can help pull these parts together?

Gore said: “Our world is in a sustainability revolution that has the magnitude of the industrial revolution and the speed and precision of the digital revolution.” Gore champions entrepreneurs, start-ups and technologists already making a huge difference, and encourages the tech industry that it has the tools for the potential to do even more, if we use our will to act.

“Will… is in itself a renewable resource” – Al Gore

If you’re inspired to use location data along with technology to build a sustainability enterprise, apply to the Geovation Challenge for support in building your idea!
Deadline: 12 noon 29 November 2017


Geovation Challenge: National Workshops

‘How can we better manage underground assets in Britain?’

We’re looking to solve problems with underground asset management in Britain: innovation for better asset mapping, maintenance, management of stakeholder impacts, and predicting asset future. These identified problem areas which cause utility companies sleepless nights can be lucrative business opportunities, and we are inviting GeoTech entrepreneurs to take advantage and win support and funding for their ideas.

We’ve teamed up with leading innovation agency, Nonon, and business and service design experts from London College of Communication for a series of national Geovation Challenge Workshops. Kicking off the national tour at the Urban Innovation Centre in London, we’re traveling the UK looking for innovative solutions to how we can better manage our underground assets and to ensure that you walk away with the knowledge to build your idea from start to finish. 

What will you do at the workshop?

Intro: How the workshop will run, who’s in the room / networking session

Problem: Introduction to the Underground Assets Challenge. Talking key problem areas with Geovation Challenge Manager, Dr. Chris Parker / Sharing your ideas with us

Solution: Prototyping your solution using UX methodology to make a good service with Service Design Expert at London College of Communication, Alison Prendiville

Execution: How to turn your idea into a scalable and sustainable business venture using lean business model methodology with Ecological Design Consultant, Kevin Mascarenas

Showcase: Showing you real examples of Geo-Tech products our developer team helped build from start to finish

Takeaway session: Are you confident enough to enter the Challenge? Giving you all the benefits of entering and more



26 October – LONDON – Geovation Hub, EC1R 0BE

15 November – MANCHESTER – Manchester Digital Laboratory, M4 1HN

16 November – NEWPORT – Innovation Point, NP20 4NW

18 November – GLASGOW – Tontine G1 5NA

Register for a workshop.

“Design is not just how it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works”- Steve Jobs 

“Service Design is the shaping of service experiences so that they really work for people. Removing the lumps and bumps that make them frustrating, and then adding some magic to make them compelling”- Chief Design Officer, Design Council


Services make up almost 80% of UK’s GDP. Design-led companies who provide excellent customer experience outperform the S&P 500 by 43%. 

Keep updated with the Challenge timetable: Twitter  / LinkedIn

Cycling innovators and the chance to win a fat bike

Bike Week — the biggest nationwide cycling event in the UK — is coming up on 13-21 June.

Bike Week

The first Bike Week took place in the UK in 1923 — some 40 years after the potentially lethal penny-farthing had been replaced by the safety bicycle — and was started by the Cyclists’ Touring Club. It has since been replicated in Ireland, Canada and the US. In the UK, it takes place annually on the third week of June. It encourages ‘everyday cycling for everyone’ and aims to promote the benefits of cycling to the environment, society, and individuals’ health. The 2015 event has a particular focus on cycling to work.

In 2014, almost half a million cyclists took part in over 1000 events nationwide. This year’s event is in June, but there are hundreds of events taking place throughout the rest of the year. You can find out what events are happening in your area at www.bikeweek.org.uk, along with your nearest bike shops!

In the Geovation team we take a keen interest in events and innovations that promote active lifestyles. Following our 2013 Active Lifestyles Challenge, four GeoVation winners are developing ventures to enable people to be more active, whether through walking, running, or other sports and activities.

In our 2010 Transport Challenge we encouraged ideas which considered more sustainable forms of transport (including cycling). Two of the winning ideas from the latter challenge, Cyclescape and the London Cycle Map Campaign, focused on improving cycling.

Greater London Cycle Map

Greater London Cycle Map


More news on housing ideas selected at GeoVation Camp

If you’ve been following the GeoVation blog you’ll be aware that we recently announced the successful finalists from our GeoVation Challenge aimed at finding ideas enable people in Britain to live in better places.

Following on from this the Judging Panel met yesterday to confirm the winners and level of funding to be awarded.

GeoVation camp

The finalists had submitted venture plans to be reviewed at the meeting and the judges had a difficult decision in deciding how to split the £101,000 awarded by Ordnance Survey and Land Registry.

They agreed to award funding to the ideas as follows:

Today the neighbourhood tomorrow the world! – Run An Empire

Run An Empire Home page

Today’s guest Blog is by Sam Hill, of Run An Empire, winners of the How can we encourage active lifestyles in Britain? Challenge. The Hoxton based, PAN Studio were awarded £26,000 to develop their idea. Run an Empire is an exercise strategy game on a smart phone app, which uses GPS with Ordnance Survey data to record paths players take and allow people to compete to capture and maintain control of as much territory as possible, using neighbourhoods as arenas for play. The more times people run or walk around their neighbourhood the more secure they can make it against ‘invasion’.


Medal Routes mobile app going for gold!

medal routes

The Commonwealth Games this summer proved a massive success for Glasgow, Scotland and indeed for all of Great Britain. Since it was announced back in 2007 that Glasgow would play host to the 20th Games, the Scottish Government has been working to create a lasting legacy from the Games which will encourage more people across the country both to be inspired by sport and to build more physical activity into their daily lives.

Medal Routes LogoIn 2011 Ramblers Scotland introduced their Medal Routes project inspired by this legacy programme. The project encourages local communities to identify three short walking routes in the local area that start and finish from one central location. Each route has a designated medal assigned to it: Bronze (approx. 15 mins walk), Silver (approx. 30 mins walk) and Gold (approx. 60 mins walk). The project is a stepping stone to fitness.


Today’s GeoVation Housing Challenge workshop

If you missed our GeoVation Housing Challenge launch event yesterday, today there is the opportunity to join us in our free Housing Challenge workshop at the Building Center, London.

The free workshop starts at 2 pm – 5 pm. You will get to hear from expert speakers about the problems that fall into our Challenge themes, we will be looking for innovative ideas that address these problems using Ordnance Survey and Land Registry  data, products or services, technology and good design.

GeoVation, Land Registry and Ordnance Survey Logos

Chris Parker, Head of GeoVation, Ordnance Survey will give a brief introduction to GeoVation and the theme of our Challenge this year ‘How can we enable people in Britain to live in better places?’ he will then introduce our three speakers for the Workshop:

David Waterhouse – Head of Strategy for Cabe at the Design Council

Alastair Parvin – Co Founder of the WikiHouse

Jim Vine – Director of Innovation HACT

Each of our speakers will give a 15-minute presentation with a brief Q&A session after.


GeoVation Housing Challenge Launch Event


GeoVation, Land Registry and Ordnance Survey Logos

Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation challenges encourage the use of open data, other data and existing products and services in the development of new ventures that generate social, economic and environmental value.

Ordnance Survey and Land Registry are pleased to announce the launch of  the latest GeoVation Challenge ‘How can we enable people in Britain to live in better places?’ in which we’re offering a slice of £101,000 in funding to develop the best ideas submitted.

The GeoVation Housing Challenge is being officially launched within the WikiHouse at The Building Centre during the London Design Festival. The WikiHouse is a 
low-energy house that anyone can download, adapt, ‘print’ and assemble in a few days, with no construction skills, for less than £50,000. The Building Centre is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to advancing innovation in the built environment.

GoVAtion Challenge 8 LogoOn Monday 15 September 2014 we will be holding our launch event (register). Chris Parker will give a short introduction about GeoVation and then introduce our guest speakers:

Finn Williams – Founder of Common Office

Andrew Van Doorn – Deputy Chief Executive, HACT

John Carpenter – Director of Planning and Strategy, Ordnance Survey

Lynne Nicholson – Senior Product Manager, Land Registry (more…)

Mapsum: walking a path from recreation to retail

Today’s guest blog post is from Chris McCormack and Alex Davies-Moore of Wimborne based company Mapsum, winners of our GeoVation Challenge  “How can we encourage active lifestyles in Britain?”. Mapsum won £26,000 to develop their idea Tagd, a service that allows anyone or any group to create, share and discover custom interactive routes that contain personalised, targeted media messages at waypoints along the routes.  The system will work with existing networks,  such as cycling clubs, local interest groups  and geocachers to get more people involved in physical activity and to discover the outdoors.


Mapsum logo


Our ambitions were small before we started on this journey with Ordnance Survey.

We entered the GeoVation contest hoping to build an app to keep kids amused while on long walks. A family could create their own trail from a computer and set virtual geocaches for the kids to find when they were out on the walk – and these digital geocaches (or treasure) would be tailored by Mum and Dad so they chimed with the kids. So a boy who liked Batman, would get Batman themed questions, quizzes or pictures as he used a mobile to follow the trail created by his parents. Neat, simple, and targeted at families who want to stop the kids getting bored on walks.

But when we worked with the GeoVation team, it was made clear that our app, while interesting, wouldn’t make a dent on the huge problem of inactivity and obesity in Britain…and the Ordnance Survey wanted us to make a dent. (more…)

GeoVation winners OpenPlay launch new site

OpenPlay is a web and mobile platform designed to connect sports facilities to the public. It takes away the hassle of finding and booking sports facilities and activities with a focus on parks, open spaces and schools. Examples include tennis courts, football pitches, multi-use games areas and sports halls.

OpenPlay Mobile screenIt was born out of frustration whilst trying to source football pitches for an U15 team in South London. I found the experience to be a complete nightmare with endless fruitless phone calls and a lack of transparency over pricing and condition of facilities on offer. I met my business partner who also shared the same frustrations and we launched the original OpenPlay platform in February 2013. We lived off cereal and a startup loan for over a year until we heard about the Geovation programme.

From running OpenPlay, we began to realise that we could also use the platform to help tackle the physical inactivity crisis which is sweeping the nation. Parks and schools are massive areas for physical activities, yet little is (more…)