From concept to reality: Connect the Community challenge next steps

helping our community

Following last week’s announcement of the 10 winning entries from the Connect the Community: Design Challenge, we caught up with Becky Payne, Innovation Project Manager, to find out what happens next…

What’s the Challenge all about?

We launched the Connect the Community competition in partnership with RS Components and Nordic Semiconductor during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the national lockdown creating feelings of isolation, loneliness and anxiety for many in the community, we were inspired to think outside the box to tackle these issues. 

Rather than trying to come up with all the answers ourselves, we opened the door to budding engineers and creative thinkers to bring fresh perspectives to the table. Our goal was to find innovative proposals to keep people safe, warm and independent in their home, so we could work with creators to develop their ideas into viable solutions.

It was a real pleasure to see the interest generated by the competition. It clearly provided a creative stimulus for people who were spending more time at home due to university courses pausing, furlough from work, or increased home working. 

What kind of entries have you seen?

We’ve seen so many interesting ideas, big and small, with participants showing a clear understanding of and passion for the brief. Each idea we’ve seen has brought a unique perspective, but what remains the same is a commitment to putting people and communities at the heart of the creators’ thinking. 

Ideas have ranged from community support initiatives, to automated medication control and digital tools to address feelings of loneliness. It was a huge challenge to select just 10 winning entries from a brilliant pool of ideas, but I am really excited about the winners that will be progressing to the next stage.

How is the Cadent Innovation team supporting the next steps of the Challenge?

We’ve worked collectively as a group to judge the entries and narrow them down to the 10 winners. We are now working closely with the participants to take their ideas to the next level, connecting them with our technical and charity partners to understand how their concepts can be developed into market ready products.

As concepts are refined and developed, the participants will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges to identify an overall winner.

What kind of support can the participants expect?

The plan is to support all of the winners in one way or another – whether that’s harnessing their idea and progressing it into further technical development, putting them in touch with one of our charity partners, advising them on how to progress their product to market themselves, or even providing funding.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in this project, which will benefit so many people in the community and provide a platform to future success for our talented winners.


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. 

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

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