Transforming Manchester into a smart city

True Innovation comes from collaboration. This belief sits at the core of the Open Innovation challenge, which was launched today by Cisco and Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP), who are on the search to work with some of the UK’s best small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a vision to transform Manchester through smart technologies.

Convened by CityVerve, the UK’s smart city demonstrator, the challenge will see eight SMEs selected to participate in an eight week initiative in Manchester to combine technology, data and creativity to tackle some of the city’s biggest problems in healthcare, transport and energy.

Commencing in March 2018, the initiative gives SMEs the opportunity to work with partners from public sector, corporate and academic worlds who are part of the CityVerve Internet of Things (IoT) test bed. The eight selected SMEs from across the UK will have the opportunity to put their innovative solutions to the test, in a real-life situation.

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The Open Innovation challenges involve collaborating with organisations in Manchester to understand their needs and focus on issues such as sustainability, inclusiveness, traffic congestion and long-term health conditions. To address these issues, four challenge briefs have been created for SMEs to respond to before entries close on 14th February. The four briefs are:

  • Health and Social Care – working with NHS Manchester – Create a solution using data being collected from home monitoring systems which enables triggered intervention and care for the elderly, to ease the reliance on healthcare providers.
  • Transport and Travel – working with Transport for Greater Manchester – Create an infrastructure or consumer solution that eases passenger experience or improves confidence and usage in public transport.
  • Energy and Environment – working with Manchester Science Partnerships – Create a non-intrusive and cost-effective solution that optimises energy consumption and reduces carbon emissions in commercial buildings, using existing building data and data from external sources.
  • Wildcard entry – If interested SMEs do not believe their solutions fit any of the briefs above, they can apply as a wildcard. The Open Innovation initiative is interested in additional internet of things, data-driven or smart solutions to improve Manchester using the data sources available on the CityVerve platform.

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CityVerve is collecting and sharing data from across the city to create a range of solutions to benefit Manchester, and the people living and working there. The Open Innovation challenges will build on this, creating IoT solutions that can be tried and tested in Manchester, but ultimately be applied in smart cities across the world.

Nick Chrissos, director of Innovation at Cisco in Europe said: “Without collaboration, any effort to solve the challenges facing society today fails at the first hurdle. No one organisation can truly do it alone. The answer lies in co-innovation, and this approach is fundamental to the Open Innovation challenges. This is an exciting opportunity not only for our country’s best SMEs to test their technology, but for us to work with them. We are looking forward to seeing what solutions are created to help solve challenges facing Manchester not only today, but in the future.”

Selected SMEs will be given unparalleled access to industry leaders in the smart city and IoT sector. Additionally, Cisco will be offering the opportunity to scale solutions through its global sales channels, while MSP and Growth Studio will provide product development and business masterclasses as well as access to investors in the smart cities space.

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Anne Dornan, head of Innovation and Partnerships at MSP said: “This is a hugely exciting part of the CityVerve demonstrator project where city partners have the opportunity to source and co-develop genuinely innovative solutions and trial them in a real-world environment. We hope to attract some of the most innovative technology SMEs in the UK to work with the support of committed civic partners and global industry players to deploy some market leading smart city solutions which not only improve key services in Manchester, but can be exported to cities globally.”

Applications for the four Open Innovation challenge briefs close on 14th February 2018, and fast-track selection days will be held on 15th and 16th February 2018

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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