Our Geovation team has four new GeoTech start-ups with new technologies and new thinking joining them on their corporate accelerator, the Geovation Programme. Since opening their doors less than two years ago, Geovation has welcomed some of the UK’s leading geospatial start-ups onto the Programme. They’ve helped businesses as varied as app makers improving the public’s fitness and access to sports facilities, to big-data platforms revolutionising drone risk and insurance.
Guest blog by Andy Ryan, Senior Technical Product Manager
When I go somewhere new, I usually look up a map (OS of course) before I go. I’m not quite sure why I do, but it’s a habit of mine which my children tease me about. In the world of business, when location is involved then you probably do the same, often without realising it. Using a sat nav to route a delivery van, ascertaining if a house you want to buy is on a flood plain, reviewing a site for a new development, or planning some underground pipe replacement all involve ‘maps’. But what if the map was blank or only partially complete, or you had to ask lots of other different people to send you bits of information that you had to stick together and even then you were not quite sure if it was complete?
When you need to work under the ground this is how it can feel. Lots of organisations have information, but it can be hard to share the information quickly and to common standards. This creates delays, unanticipated disruptions, extra costs and danger to those working in these areas. This is a widely recognised problem and the direct costs to the UK of accidental damage to utilities alone has been estimated at £150 million, with associated indirect costs, such as traffic disruption, of ten times this*. If other potential costs or savings are factored in, for example assessing the potential of brownfield sites, identifying infrastructure at risk from subsidence or tree roots, then the benefits of a map that includes what lies below ground increases significantly. The Treasury estimate that greater cross-sector collaboration with infrastructure networks across GB could save the economy £3 billion#.
Our world is in constant danger from natural and man-made disaster. The risk of flood, famine, hurricanes, earthquakes and disease is ever present. We’re already seeing the impact of climate change in rising sea levels and extreme weather events. Aid budgets are stretched and volunteers under pressure. How can geospatial technology and tools be used to better global humanitarian response?
Using real data sets from real disasters, CrisisHack: 2017 will give you the opportunity to combine geospatial tools and technology to create solutions to improve global humanitarian response. You’ll be given a real crisis case study to stimulate your thinking around four user needs that have been validated by real humanitarian organisations.
2017 is set to be another big year for Geovation, with the team already planning the next Geovation Challenge. With the current challenge, underground assets, in full swing the team have kicked off the process of setting the theme, and most importantly the issues, which need addressing for the next challenge.
Today (4 January) the Geovation team are taking part in the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) to co-host a session with Shared Assets. At the event, we’ll be launching the concept of our next Geovation challenge, focusing on greener, smarter communities/greener infrastructure. The challenge will be unveiled in Autumn 2017 and will draw heavily on the new Greenspace mapping products which launches in Spring 2017.
We are excited to announce that our 10th Geovation Challenge will focus on our underground assets. The Challenge ‘How can we better manage underground assets in Britain?’ recognises successful innovation depends on developing innovative solutions to real problems. The challenge opens for entries on 19 October, 2016 with the focus on using geographical data and design thinking to address the problems associated with underground asset location, management, impacts on stakeholders and predicting asset future.
To help you understand the Challenge focus, how to enter, timescales and the benefits should you win, we are holding a launch event at the Geovation Hub on 12 October from 4pm to 7pm.
We blogged recently about a new app from former Geovation winners Run An Empire. Find out more about them in their guest blog by Sam Hill.
It was back in 2014 when I first walked into the shiny atrium of the Ordnance Survey head office. My team and I had caught several trains from East London to Southampton, we had dropped our things off at the nearby Holiday Inn, and we were eagerly gearing up for the weekend-long hackathon.
We had in the last week learned that we’d been shortlisted from 74 entries to be one of the dozen finalists for Geovation’s latest innovation challenge – “How Can We Encourage Active Lifestyles in Britain?”
Run An Empire were winners of the ‘How can we encourage active lifestyles in Britain?’ Geovation Challenge. The Hoxton-based, PAN Studio were awarded £26,000 to develop their idea, an exercise strategy game on a smart phone app. Run An Empire uses GPS with OS data to record the paths players take and allows 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’.
At our recent GeoTech Meetup at the Geovation Hub the hot topic of conversation was augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and how mashing these with geospatial data unlocks the potential for some pretty exciting innovations in the near future.
OS Labs engineer, Layla Gordon, led the event at the Hub, and here she explains some of her adventures with AR…
Our first foray into the virtual spaces goes back to May 2015 where OS was the platinum sponsor of an event called Digital Shoreditch in London. The venue is a Victorian basement with lots of corridors and rooms and in previous years visitors had trouble navigating within the building and finding the exhibitions they wanted to see.
The Geovation Hub has been open now for one year. In that time it has:
- 550 members’ regular attending the hub and using its space and resources.
- 40 SMEs basing themselves at the Hub.
- 4 start-ups on the Geovation Programme.
- 30 lead partners.
- Delivered £300,000 of revenue through partnerships and sponsorships that was unbudgeted.
- GeoSpock – one of the first members of Geovation, using the hub to build their business and validate what they are doing. We took an active role in helping them secure £3.5m in investment.
- FATMAP who came to us in the summer of 2015 with 3 people needing somewhere to establish themselves and take their 3D ski maps to market. They went live with their product in December and went out to a web summit in Ireland. We worked closely with them on their pitch and presentation, and they ended up raising £1m of bridge finance.
- FATMAP grew from 3 to 8 employees when they were with us.
- 3 Crowd Cube successes – Stay Safe raised £400,000. OpenPlay raised £150,000. Store Mates is closing in on raising £150,000.
- Around 20 companies this year that have grown by at least a couple of people since they have been at the Hub.
I caught up with Geovation Hub manager, Alex Wrottesley about Geovation, the Hub and the past year.
What is Geovation and what is the Geovation Hub?
Geovation is Ordnance Survey’s (OS) commitment to open innovation and the Geovation Hub, Clerkenwell, is how OS creates new models to work with other companies and organisations outside the business.
In our first year there are already a wide range of businesses using the hub. This includes large corporations, to SMEs to individuals starting out. Basically it is anyone with an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship within geospatial data.
Our Geovation Programme is aimed at developers, entrepreneurs and innovators to take their ideas and build them into real businesses. The Geovation team work closely with the teams and invest funding, resources and developer time to help them build their businesses ready for market. The Hub itself provides a range of resources geared towards helping them develop their businesses. This includes desk space, coaching and mentorship, access to OS and partner data, developer support, access to software, legal and professional support and other services that can be hard to secure when you’re first starting out.
The Geovation Programme is divided into four phases: Phases one to three are over a period of six months, where Programme members receive a total of £10,000 in funding. If a prototype is successfully delivered at the end of this phase four kicks in, which is a further six months on the Programme with an additional £10,000 in funding. For those who are successful in getting to phase four, the Geovation team help to secure further funding and the provide go-to-market support to launch the product and make it a commercial success.