The story so far: Connect the Community Challenge

Helping our community

In July we announced the ten winners of the Connect the Community: Design Challenge. Since then the winners have been busy refining their ideas and perfecting their pitches to secure support from Cadent and our charitable partners.

What was the challenge all about?

We teamed up with two fantastic partners, RS Components - the leading distributor of electronic, electrical and industrial components - and technology specialists Nordic Semiconductor. Together, we called on young engineers and creative thinkers asking them to think about how isolation and loneliness had impacted those in their community and to conceptualise new, innovative ideas to solve these challenges using internet of things (IoT) technologies.

Where have the winners got to?

Since being crowned winners of the competition, the successful entrants have been fine-tuning their ideas and pitches. Together with Nordic Semiconductor, we have provided them with prototyping components to help them start taking their ideas from concept to reality. The winners have also had access to exclusive opportunities to help them refine their proposition including legal advice to help protect their innovations, and tips in presenting investment-winning pitches online, supported by the EIC.

Who are the winners?

The Connect the Community: Design Challenge winners were selected from over 50 entries - the top ten ideas represent the most exciting and potentially transformational opportunities to support communities.

We asked our winners to describe how their innovations were "Connecting the Community" in just a few words - hear what some of them had to say in our latest video celebrating their progress.

Why did the entrants take part?

We were humbled by the entrants’ desire to use their skills and great ideas to change people’s lives for the better. Maria Sofia and Natalia, who came up with the Pill-ing Better concept, said: "This was a great opportunity to let our creativity develop something for the common good, while using our acquired engineering skills and, now, making it something real".

Other entrants were able to use the competition as a platform to pursue ideas they had been considering for some time. Mahendra had identified a common desire amongst his neighbours to support one another - as he put it, "I saw that residents are vested in wanting to be part of a local community." This was the inspiration for his idea, Street Sentry.

What's next?

We invited the winners to pitch their ideas live to a panel comprised of Cadent, Nordic Semiconductor and relevant charities in the UK. We are connecting the winners with the organisations who are best placed to support them in understanding their target markets and developing their concepts.

We caught up with Claire Steed from Nordic Semiconductor, who was present for all of the innovator's pitches to Cadent and their partners. Claire sees a lot of IoT product ideas through her work with Nordic's customers (Nordic Semiconductor are a world leader in wireless IoT technologies). Claire commented, “I was most impressed by those who were not from an electronics background, but who had quickly learnt the capabilities and constraints of IoT product development. Their unique perspectives resulted in some unexpected and impressive ideas. This shows just how important it is to have many types of mind working on a problem. All of the teams showed great progression throughout the challenge, refining their product concepts ahead of the final pitch”.


Claire Steed - Regional Sales Manager
Nordic Semiconductor


Jo Giles, Customer Safeguarding Manager at Cadent, added, "Working with the fantastic, entrepreneuring winners of the challenge has allowed us to explore innovation possibilities we would never have thought of before. By expanding the innovation pool and inviting new voices to the party, we’re exploring uncharted territory in support of our commitment to keep people safe, warm and independent in their home."


Jo Giles - Customer Safeguarding Manager
Cadent

Find out more

For more information about the Challenge, follow the links below.

Visit DesignSpark
Find out about the winners

Cadent

Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

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