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Parking aids and wearable heart monitors among the start-ups in new accelerator
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Parking aids and wearable heart monitors among the start-ups in new accelerator

Posted by Jeremy CowanMarch 29, 2019

(A WEEK IN IoT) – All too often we, and the wider media, become a little obsessed with the activities of the corporate giants. I’m just as guilt as anyone, says Jeremy Cowan, and I can tell you I’ve given myself a stern talking to.

I should know better. Often, the most exciting technology emerges from start-ups – sometimes it’s just two bods in a garage. So, here’s a shout out to the people behind Data Pitch, which this week introduced some more successful start-ups at a celebratory reception held on London’s Google Campus.

The €7.1 million, three-year Data Pitch programme is now in its final year and has been funded by the European Commission to build a stronger data economy in Europe. It sets a series of challenges, which agile start-ups seek to solve by working with data. To enable this, high-profile data providers from business and the public sector help devise the challenges and give the start-ups access to their data in order to unlock its value.

This year the 29 new start-ups include a company that uses biosignals and machine learning to detect and monitor cardiac conditions and sleep disorders via a wearable patch; a firm using data to inform energy strategy; an online platform to measure and manage sustainable farming practices; a telematics company helping businesses to increase fleet efficiency and integrate electric vehicles into their operations; and a start-up that helps optimise performance in renewable energy generation.

This new cohort brings the total number of Data Pitch companies to 47. They each receive up to €100,000 in equity-free funding, expert mentoring, investment opportunities, and access to data from established businesses and the public sector. This new group of Data Pitch start-ups will join the next accelerator programme which runs from April to September 2019.

Among the high profile data providers taking part in the programme are the UK’s national weather service, the Met Office, multinational technology giant Konica Minolta, and global packaging provider Greiner. Others include Netherlands-based telecoms company Altice, the University of Dundee’s GROW Observatory, Portuguese healthcare company Jose de Mello Saude, pan-European travel community MASAI and a global financial services provider.

In addition to the specific tasks set by the Data Providers, there are seven sector challenges which cover areas such as automotive, smart transport, energy, finance, pharmaceuticals, telecoms, and privacy & consent.

Professor Elena Simperl of the University of Southampton and Data Pitch project director says: Our first group of 18 start-ups, which graduated in July 2018, has so far generated over €6 million of value in sales, investments and efficiencies, and is already beginning to create powerful new data-enabled business models. Their success demonstrates that we are creating an innovation ecosystem for Europe, where larger, more established organisations work closely with agile start-ups to innovate and learn from each other, using data as an enabler to solve problems, helping industry save time and money with new products and services from some of Europe’s brightest companies.

“Data Pitch has shown that setting up a trusted environment which encourages experimentation as a way to manage risks appeals to organisations across the private and the public sectors. It also helps inform future innovation programmes and the policies that underpin them by providing data and case studies that show clearly where the bottlenecks are, what resources are needed and what toolkits and affordances could help create efficiencies and reduce costs.”

“We wanted to explore how collaborative working can enable the development of ideas and solutions that would previously have been impossible, and as we move into our final year it is also important that we learn lessons from the process, build them back into the programme, and share our insights about how to create the best conditions for data innovation across Europe,” says Simperl.

Jeremy Cowan is the editorial director of IoT Now & VanillaPlus.

The event also featured a panel discussion on lessons learned so far, the benefits of the Data Pitch model and the barriers it has encountered. The panel was made up of representatives from academia, industry, and government, who discussed innovations and policies around the use of shared data.

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