Polysolar and Voyage Control have been selected as the first two winners in Canary Wharf Group’s (CWG) Smart Cities accelerator, the Cognicity Challenge. The innovators were competing in a 12-week accelerator programme at Canary Wharf under the ‘Sustainable Buildings’ and ‘Integrated Transportation’ streams of the competition.
Cognicity’s accelerator programme aims to fast-track promising smart city technology businesses by providing a series of intensive workshops, expert mentoring sessions by a team of Canary Wharf specialists and business mentors, and excellent networking opportunities. At the end of the programme each entrant delivers a business plan and pitches to CWG executives, with the winning projects taken forward to the pilot stage. The Challenge brings together a diverse range of companies, from Big Data firms to renewable energy providers, and encourages them to work in a collaborative environment. Invaluable support is also provided by Intel*, one of the world’s largest blue-chip companies, who is collaborating with the Cognicity Challenge to provide best practice guidance and technology to the participants.
The winners each receive a £50,000 prize and the opportunity to pilot their ground-breaking technology in one of London’s most forward-thinking districts, Canary Wharf, as part of Canary Wharf Group’s ongoing commitment to adopting the next generation of technology solutions.
Sir George Iacobescu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Canary Wharf Group plc, said: “The Cognicity Challenge is helping to ensure we have access to some of the most important innovations in smart, sustainable cities. We want Canary Wharf to remain one of the most sustainable, convenient and technologically advanced ‘cityscapes’ in the world, and the Cognicity Challenge is helping us improve even further our unique approach to property development. With Cognicity we are very pleased to be playing a key role in moving smart cities from concept to reality.”
The winner of the ‘Sustainable Buildings’ stream, Polysolar, has developed transparent, thin-film solar PV glass panels which can be integrated into a building’s external structure to generate clean energy. Their solution can be easily retrofitted into existing buildings, as well as being integrated into new-builds. The Cambridge-based firm has already completed projects for the Barbican and the Future Business Centre.
The winner of the ‘Integrated Transportation’ stream, Voyage Control, is a company that aims to optimise the freight industry through advanced logistics management, tracking and data-gathering. Their system also matches customers with empty trucks to utilise spare capacity, reducing costs and emissions in the process. More than 13,000 businesses already use the platform, and have collectively saved over 150,000 hours of wasted journey time.
Both companies will now work with key Canary Wharf specialists to deploy their pilot within Canary Wharf.
Keynote speaker and former MP Dan Byles, founding Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smart Cities, and until recently a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee, commented: "It is fantastic to see innovative companies like these breaking new ground in the fields of sustainable buildings and integrated transportation. If we want a sustainable planet we need sustainable cities, and Canary Wharf Group are showing real vision and leadership in this space with programmes like the Cognicity Challenge. The Government is working closely with thought leaders like CWG and Cognicity to help support UK capability in this sector, and the UK has the opportunity to lead the world in smart city thinking and implementation."
Eric Van der Kleij, Head of Level39 and Managing Director of specialist innovation practise ENTIQ, who delivered the Cognicity Challenge for Canary Wharf Group, added: “I have never seen such a close competition. The calibre of all the participants and our winners, Polysolar and Voyage Control, is testament to the high level of talent amongst those working on innovative technologies in the smart city sector. By harnessing innovation and pushing for interoperability, the Cognicity Challenge is helping to transform Canary Wharf into a truly integrated and convenient smart city that is more functional, sustainable and ultimately a better environment to live, work and do business.”
John Alker, Director of Policy and Communications, UK Green Building Council, commented: “It is wonderful to see an established company like Canary Wharf Group looking to young entrepreneurs for the next stage of development within their estate. As we move forward, issues of sustainability will become increasingly prominent and the technology sector will play an enhanced role in the design and construction of our buildings.”
Of the remaining ten companies, 8point3 LED, Pavegen and PIE Mapping were all given highly honourable mentions, with the CWG executives expressing their desire to continue engagement with these exciting innovators, in what looks to be a bright future for all the Cognicity participants.
The final 12 companies to join the Cognicity Challenge for the Connected Home and Virtual Design & Construction accelerator streams will be announced on Monday 20 April 2015, bringing the total number of Cognicity Challenge finalists to 36.