Smart Lab announces innovative ideas set to change Sheffield

04 December 2015

Well-known TV scientist Professor Heinz Wolff and a group of Sheffield students are amongst the nine Sheffield Smart Lab winners that were announced yesterday (Thursday 3rd December) at an awards ceremony in Sheffield.

The winning ideas, which are set to change the way in which Sheffield tackles some of its everyday challenges and build an intelligent city, range from a solution by Professor Heinz Wolff, which will offer volunteers the opportunity to earn credits that they can then exchange for care for themselves or their loved ones, to an app that has been developed by students from the city that will help people to search easily for nearby events.

Earlier this year, the Sheffield Smart Lab initiative – a partnership between Sheffield City Council, Amey and Ferrovial Services Centre of Excellence for Cities – invited entrepreneurs and start-up businesses to submit innovative ideas that would help to address two different challenges: how to energise the city centre and how to support people to live independently.

Organisers of the initiative received over 50 pioneering ideas from entrepreneurs and start-up businesses in Sheffield and around the world, and had the challenge of narrowing it down to just nine winning solutions.

Cllr Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development, said: “As a council, it is important to us that we drive innovation to Sheffield. There’s an energy and appetite for it in the city and we recognise that in order to do this we need to partner with start-ups and innovators. That’s what Sheffield Smart Lab is all about and by attracting entrepreneurs we can support and help them to build on their ideas, making them a reality, benefitting both them and the city.

The challenges that the solutions solve are hugely important to Sheffield and this gives us a great opportunity to offer a better quality of life for the people of Sheffield and attract visitors to the city centre.”

Nick Gregg, Amey’s Local Government Managing Director, said: “Well done to the nine teams that have been shortlisted. Over 50 innovative ideas were received after the launch in June and I’m confident that the solutions that have been selected could make a big difference to the city of Sheffield. By bringing the use of technology to the city in an innovative way, we can enhance the services that we already offer and improve the quality of life for both residents and visitors.

“I’m looking forward to watching the selected solutions progress during the next phase of the initiative and seeing how they can contribute to the development of Sheffield.”

Professor Heinz Wolff added: “We are not just pleased but thrilled and grateful for having our project Give & TakeCare CIC included in the Smart Lab programme. It will encourage collaboration in a scheme for improving the quality of life for elderly people who want to be cared for in their own homes.”

Ben Hooper from OverHear, who have developed an app that will allow people to search for an event by location and time, said: “The OverHear app is an intuitive way of finding events wherever you are. We want it to become a tool for the city, helping Sheffield to unlock its citizen’s creativity and enliven the city centre. This is why we have been, and will continue to, focus on local growth.

“We’re looking forward to the next few months as Sheffield Smart Lab gives us a platform from which we can start developing real connections with clients and users in the city. The support we receive from Sheffield Smart Lab will help us develop OverHear as a real asset for anyone hosting or looking for events in Sheffield.”

The winners will now participate in an incubation and acceleration programme, where they will be able to develop their idea, product or service in a ‘smart lab’ facility, supported by both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, before showcasing it early next year. After having the opportunity to develop their original solution, they will then be put to the test in a real life situation in the city.

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