Budding entrepreneurs across Great Britain are bidding for a share of £125,000 funding to turn their ideas on how Wales could make the most of its new coast path, into a reality.
The recently opened Wales Coast Path is the first coastal network in the world to cover an entire country. The 870 mile-long path stretches from the Dee estuary in north-east Wales to Chepstow in the south-east with breath taking scenery.
As part of its GeoVation Challenge, Ordnance Survey has challenged entrepreneurs across Great Britain to use innovation and geography to come up with ideas for ventures, products and applications, which will help connect communities and visitors along the path, benefiting those who live and work along the route, and beyond.
Ideas have been developed in response to community based workshops, which identified problems associated with the path that need to be solved.
Following a GeoVation camp, where entrepreneurs’ ideas were developed and pitched to judges, the entries were whittled down to just seven finalists. Those seven will now need to pitch before a panel at SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff on Wednesday 18 July, in an attempt to win funding to get their ideas off the ground.
GeoVation is an innovation network from Ordnance Survey supporting new geography and mapping based business ventures that have an economic, social or environmental benefit for the country. GeoVation does this by running themed challenges, which address real world problems and opportunities.
With the path now officially open, the GeoVation Challenge, Wales’ first Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), funded in partnership with Ramblers Cymru; the Welsh Government and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), aims to look at how people who live and work near the path can benefit from this ‘world first’ opportunity.
Chris Parker, one of the GeoVation organisers at Ordnance Survey, said: “GeoVation is pleased to be part of this world first for Wales. We are genuinely excited about the potential of the ideas to solve real problems for the benefit of communities and visitors along the path, through the use of geography and innovation."
Andy Middleton, Judging Panel Chair, said: “I've been struck by the quality of ideas that has emerge. Bringing together people from different technology backgrounds who are connected by a heartfelt love of the outdoors has created potentially game-changing ideas. It's so clear that nature and geographic information need each other.“
Angela Charlton, Director of Ramblers Cymru said: “We have been delighted to be involved in such an innovative project that encourages more people to make the most of the wonderful achievement that is the Wales Coast Path. The GeoVation Challenge has provided a next step for the Coast Path, making the link between the enjoyment for walkers and the economic, health and well-being benefits it will bring to coastal communities in Wales. As Britain’s walking charity we think these new ideas will make a real difference to how walkers interact with the Coast Path."
Jane Davidson, President of Ramblers Cymru said: “The Wales Coast Path is a triumph for walkers and local economies and it is wonderful to see how these digital ideas can improve the experience of walkers and connect communities along the path. As both a Rambler and a resident of a Coast Path community, I await with interest the winners of the GeoVation challenge.”
Notes to editors: As part of the challenge we have asked people to fulfil some of the following aims:
- How can we stimulate local business growth off the back of genuine problems that need solving?
- How can more be done for local communities to support and use the path?
- How can we engage and empower children and young people to use, take more interest in, and become proud of the Wales Coast Path?
- How do we provide accessible information to help people to plan their walks based on their needs, abilities and expectations?
- How can we provide a joined-up public transport system across the Wales Coast Path?
Through the website users can rate, comment and collaborate on each other’s contributions. The best ideas, selected by a panel of judges, are invited to attend a series of workshops to develop prototypes and have a chance to win a share of the £125,000 prize to make the prototypes a reality.
The seven chosen finalists are:
- Growing Routes – an idea posted by Richard, the web-based app is designed to engineer business opportunities along the 870-mile-long route. It will seek to encourage businesses to expand, bringing jobs and opportunities to local residents.
- Perfect Visitor Companion – this idea engages with visitors to the Wales Coast Path through a smartphone app. The platform will connect with visitors by creating new, exciting cultural and historical themed visitor experiences, to enrich the local community and businesses.
- Living Paths – an idea in which communities create a Wikipedia page and post articles about their community, which are geo-tagged. Local visitors and tourists will be able to access this information via smartphones providing them with a rich cultural and historical experience.
- Igam Ogam – GPS-based augmented reality oral history smartphone app. Welsh place names, rock formations or bays viewed through the camera of a smartphone will be translated automatically into English, with the correct Welsh pronunciation. Text will follow, explaining the origin of the name. The aim is to incorporate local voices into the recordings, creating a culturally authentic feel.
- Experience Wales – web and smartphone based app to enhance backpackers experiences. Through social media and crowdsourcing, it will allow young people to build and custom-design their volunteering holiday route, helping local communities, and finding accommodation along the Wales Coast Path.
- Food Finder – the idea to create a smartphone app and website to highlight delicious local food (and beer), farms, wild food hotspots, food activities and places to eat. It will provide details of seasonal wild food for the whole year.
- View Wales 360 – an idea to show 360-degree elevations of the Wales Coast Path which would showcase the path and help people plan walks from a combined team formed from these ideas Online Path Viewer, 360 Virtual Tours, GPS Driven Local Information, and Scrolling Elevation Map.