Announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in March, the competition is the result of collaboration between Tech City UK, the Technology Strategy Board and Cambridge Wireless to provide support for early and growth stage businesses working in the IoT space.
The competition is open to all European entrepreneurs, as long as their company is registered in the UK and has a working connection with either the London or Cambridge tech clusters. The Launchpad competition will provide business and marketing support, mentorship, routes to market and grant funding to the successful applicants, who are developing ideas, prototypes, or have an existing business, and want to accelerate their development. Up to £1M grant funding will be shared across the successful applicants to the Launchpad competition.
As the inaugural London Technology Week and IOT Week 2014 get underway, the competition organisers have named a raft of leading brands that have pledged support for IoT innovation by committing investment, retail space and business mentoring to the successful SMEs:
· EE will provide retail and marketing space across selected EE stores, along with marketing support and distribution channels for any appropriate winners;
· John Lewis will consider listing any suitable products from the winning companies for an agreed period, offering point of sale, business and marketing support and mentoring;
· Unilever has agreed to match funding up to 50% for any suitable competition winners and offer them business and marketing support along with mentorship;
· Seedcamp, the early-stage micro seed investment fund and mentoring programme will match funding for a number of suitable winners, as well as offer business support and mentorship;
· Red Gate, the Cambridge-based software firm will provide office space for shortlisted applicants, potential match funding, mentoring, business support, and marketing support for some of the successful applicants.
Research analysts Gartner predict by 2020, nearly 26 billion physical devices will be transmitting data to each other via the Internet. For innovators and tech engineers, as well as for consumers the opportunity is staggering – from electricity meters that talk to the grid to get you the best deals, to new flood warning systems that use sensors and the Internet to predict problems ahead of time.
Gerard Grech, Tech City UK CEO said: “The Internet of Things is a transformative development, representing a major growth area and economic opportunity. With our expertise in both software and hardware, we believe Britain can be a major player in this space.
“It’s vital that we create the right conditions to enable digital businesses to pioneer in the Internet of Things. I’m therefore extremely excited that this Launchpad competition has attracted the support of a number of leading brands. It’s the right time for the public and private sector to support the development of the Internet of Things as it has the potential to impact on and transform many of the services and products we rely on in our daily lives. I can’t wait to see what is created.”
Nick Appleyard, Head of Digital, Technology Strategy Board said: “This is the second Launchpad Programme which we have run in the digital space. We have seen a number of fantastic innovative SMEs taking their ideas from concept to commercialisation as a direct result of the programme, and the support our private sector partners are offering applicants provides a truly unique opportunity that these startups rarely get access to.”
Soraya Jones, CEO of Cambridge Wireless commented: “UK wireless innovation among SMEs is at its peak. We have seen a surge of promising business, academic and amateur entrepreneurs driving tech innovation forward, the agile nature of SMEs allow them to react to market needs, with less restrictions that we see in the larger corporations in bringing their ideas to market. Year on year, we are seeing rising SMEs make their mark within tech innovation and we are delighted to be one of the cluster champions supporting UK SMEs, working closely with our partner in Tech City UK.”