Following the launch of the Smart City Innovation Testbed at Salford’s MediaCityUK, Quadrant Smart sits down with UP Ventures’ managing partner, Steven Thomas, to learn more.
The Smart City Testbed launched earlier this month in MediaCityUK is partnered with Connected Places Catapult, which accelerates smarter living and travelling with its expertise on emerging technologies.
Hoping to create a profoundly positive impact on the way people adapt and thrive, the testbed, which will run until April, is centred around supporting human-to-human services enhanced by technology. In order to do this, the testbed will develop and prototype solutions to discover how cities can use technology to improve people’s day to day lives.
UP Ventures delivers and design programmes like the Smart City Testbed. “What we try to do is design programmes that are going to focus on the right problems and try and bring the emerging technologists and talented entrepreneurs together to create something,” explains Steven.
Positivity feeding positivity
Six start-up companies are part of the cohort for the Smart City Innovation Testbed.
Hello Lamp Post has created a way for city planning to be centred around citizens’ needs and ideas. Speaking of the company, Steven told Quadrant Smart: “they [Hello Lamp Post] have a great way of gathering feedback about a place or about the design of a place or potentially the future design of a place. I think they have a chance of breaking down barriers and getting real qualitative feedback from members of the public, so that will be interesting.”
Amto Technology uses IoT devices and advanced algorithms to help employers monitor the pollution levels to which their staff are exposed.
Cyber Defence Services’ IoT security platform monitors devices connected to the network and detects threats.
Secure Sensor Innovative Design has built a system which allows organisations, such as care homes and housing associations, to monitor temperature and humidity levels. Additionally, its IoT system can also detect sudden falls from elderly residents.
R-Com’s Smart City solution comprises of a suite of sensors that counts passengers on public transport, measures air quality and monitors vehicles on the road.
Pulse Systems designs, builds and deploys cloud-connected smart sensors and solutions which allow businesses to understand their workspaces in greater detail.
All six of the start-ups involved in the testbed are focusing on improving the lives of those who live and work in the area. Steven told Quadrant Smart: “What you have are six businesses are bleeding edge in terms of the technology they are offering.”
The cohort of businesses, Steven explained, are “a very supportive group, and the positivity feeds more positivity.” “So the fact that we have six businesses on the testbed, being promoted, sharing their expertise in doing what they’re doing will inevitably stimulate more activity in the sector,” he noted.
A period of discovery
Steven told Quadrant Smart with the testbed they “are going through a period of discovery” and, with the group of interesting businesses in the cohort, Steven believes “there is potential for them to have a profound impact” in the area.
MediaCityUK offers a unique location for the testbed. “Because of its layout, you can integrate different technologies arguably more easily, and find out a lot more from testing and piloting. , that’s what the testbed is about, it’s about leveraging MediaCityUK’s position and capabilities from that perspective,” says Steven.
Not only will the testbed use technological innovation to improve the lives of people in the area, but it will also make MediaCityUK “greener, more efficient, certainly better designed in terms of helping people live and work in the same place,” Steven says.
Taking a practical approach to boost the area, Steven explains: “That in itself is a good thing because that sets an example, and it allows us to share any results or any outcomes that come from that practical approach.
“There is a real opportunity in terms of how we change existing buildings, but also, how we change future buildings going forward as well,” says Steven.
With a focus on innovation, piloting and testing the Smart City Testbed will boost the area in its recovery from Coronavirus. Steven shared his thoughts of the impact the testbed could make: “Hopefully, it inspires [other areas], but ultimately it really needs to show how it can save money, save the environment and make a difference to people’s lives.
“That’s why we keep it focused on testing and improving technology and commercialising that in the right way and that’s how I think we will inspire other cities and other areas.”