Our recent work

Open innovation challenges

http://thewillefordgroup.com//financialMgtTools.htm Tenshi has delivered a series of open innovation challenges aimed at connecting larger organisations with early stage digital entrepreneurs to solve innovation problems. The most innovative ideas put forward by SMEs gained 100% funding awards from Innovate UK, to build pre-commercial prototypes and trial them with the industry partner.

source link Scoping regional innovation for Bath Spa University

source link Creating an open innovation platform for Amey

Making open data more accessible for Staffordshire

Stimulating innovation for a major credit card supplier

Delivering warmth with Baxi

Securing public innovation funding for Fidel

Empowering citizens in cities with Trueform

Preventing injuries amongst runners with WWP

Greater London Authority

As part of the Innovate UK funded Future Retail Innovation contest we worked with the Greater London Authority (GLA) on a challenge related to the digital enhancement of street and covered markets. The GLA recognised that markets in the UK have recently seen a decrease in performance, attributed to a number of issues such as competition from supermarkets and poor town planning decisions.

We worked with the GLA to set a challenge to help London’s markets adapt and grow through the take-up of new technologies. The successful solution could be an application, online platform, wearable technology, connected or Internet of Things device; or any combination of the aforementioned technologies.

Proxama PLC, who won the challenge, will be designing an app that helps consumers find and locate street and covered markets in real-time to promote sales for these independent retailers. The Loka app will use Bluetooth beacon technology to precisely position the consumer within the local area and retail market to deliver highly targeted messaging to drive footfall and increase in-market purchasing.


As part of the Innovate UK funded Future Retail Innovation contest we worked with Tesco on a challenge related to fighting food waste. Tesco’s ambition to lead in reducing global food waste resulted in us helping them to define a competition that looked for a multichannel, customer-focused digital solution to help reduce waste once food items left the store. The solution needed to make things simpler and less time consuming for customers, and have the potential to be widely adopted, while understanding and addressing the key drivers of household food waste.

Thaw Technologies, the winner of the challenge, will be partnering with Tesco to engineer a consumer electronic device called ‘Use-By-Mate’, to empower consumers to reduce food waste in the UK, by adapting their buying trends to be more sustainable.


As part of the Innovate UK funded Cross-sector exploration contest we worked with the Barbican on a challenge related to enhancing audience interaction with cultural programmes. The sheer range and number of events within cultural organisations’ programmes can make it difficult for visitors to intuitively discover opportunities that might be of interest. A challenge looked to find innovative digital solutions to animate the breadth of the Barbican’s programme; and to facilitate unexpected discovery to enable a personalised visitor experience.

The Hub, created by winners The Project Factory, is a search tool which provides a new way to explore the Barbican’s programme of events, using thematic and conceptual descriptions along with emotional responses to select content, rather than solely genre categories.

Proctor & Gamble

As part of the Innovate UK funded Cross-sector exploration contest we worked with Proctor and Gamble on a challenge related to brand loyalty. We helped them to set a challenge to find alternative ways for brands without a physical retail presence, to reach, engage and build closer and more meaningful relationship with their consumers. We were looking for solutions which could utilise digital technology to drive interaction with the brand and around specific products or ranges.

Chromatrope, the winners, created Soki Soki, a smartphone application which turns ordinary product bar codes into smart-codes. Users can access content and attach text, video or audio clips and images to products.

Ordnance Survey

As part of the Innovate UK funded data innovation contest we worked with Ordnance Survey on a challenge related to geospatial data mapping. The challenge investigated the feasibility of implementing a next-generation 3D building data layer for location-based services within a mobile platform. Solutions needed to investigate how the data would be visualised, ways to enhance the aggregation of 3D building data with location-based services, and how consumers and commercial clients would interact and interpret that data.

Winners, Inform Architecture, built an app (The Building App), which acts as a portal to allow homeowners to navigate the planning process. The aim was to have it provide a modular ‘one stop shop’ for all stages, feedback on the design and automated validation of the submission. Authorities were keen to be involved as it provided them with a valid application plus digitalised data.


As part of the Innovate UK funded innovation in urban spaces contest we worked with Centro on a challenge related to effective journey management. This challenge looked for innovative ways to demonstrate how transport data owned by Centro and Urban Traffic Management and Control in the West Midlands, in combination with publicly available data, could be used to build value for both the public service provider and the public. Applicants were asked to explore new ways to combine existing public and travel open data, with automatic number plate recognition, camera data and non-live spatial and radial satellite data. The aim was to help maximise parking capacity, manage traffic flow, reduce congestion and emissions and speed up journey times, particularly for transit Park and Ride areas.

The winning solution, Save-a-Space by Accelogress will assist drivers to plan or instantaneously find the most suitable parking spaces at their destination, allow them to make guaranteed bookings and will also automate the entire process such as payment on their smart phone.


As part of the Innovate UK funded quantified self innovation contest we worked with Toshiba on a challenge related to self-tracking for young people. Empowering teens (11-17 years) to take ownership and engage with their own data for self-improvement, was the focus for Toshiba’s challenge. Solutions could focus on tracking either emotional wellbeing, physical activity, nutrition and/or fatigue.

The winner of this competition, Yomp, was shortly acquired after they were announced as the winner, which is the ultimate result for any of IC tomorrow’s winners as they go through this process.

Penguin Random House

As part of the Innovate UK funded Cross-sector exploration contest we worked with the Penguin Random House on a challenge related to reading analytics. The challenge looked for ways in which publishers could gain more direct information and analytics about how their ebook content is being consumed digitally. Digital solutions could embed a tool into the original ebook file to enable subsequent tracking of information for publishers or it could monitor how users highlighted and bookmarked particular segments and sections of ebooks.

The challenge winners, Jellybooks, built Project Crowberry, a solution which embeds custom-built Javascript into e-book files. Readers are then incentivised to click the links in order for the publisher to track reader behaviour. The idea was to emulate the success of Google Analytics, which tracks how browsers interact with websites through a small Javascript file that is included in every webpage.

AXA PPP healthcare

As part of the Innovate UK funded quantified self innovation contest we worked with AXA PPP healthcare on a challenge related to emotional wellbeing in the working age. AXA PPP healthcare wanted to find a consumer-focused digital solution that utilised self-monitoring for positive mental wellbeing of those of working age. The solution needed to be able to be used within the workplace as well as in the user’s personal life. It also needed to address patterns of behaviour that informed the user about how they could improve their mental health, ultimately encouraging long term behaviour change.

PsyOmics, the winning company, is investigating an app to help people to monitor key aspects of their physical and mental wellbeing over time. It will offer lifestyle advice to improve psychological resilience to stress and prevent the development of emerging mental health conditions.


As part of the Innovate UK funded Future Retail Innovation contest we worked with Barclays on a challenge related to enhancing in-store experience within their branches, enabling them to provide more customer friendly digital solutions in branch and/or other retail locations, to help customers with their everyday banking needs. The solution needed to be simple to use, secure and reliable, time-saving and accessible to all customers.

The winner of the challenge, Rewarding Visits Ltd, will be developing, Book-it, a web-based platform to enable users to make appointment bookings remotely and check-in for their meetings. It will be available online using a mobile device, from a home computer or at an interactive kiosk called Touchpoint. This will include a digital display, touch pad screen, card scanner and thermal printer and will display real-time adviser availability and promote financial offers, as well as linking to Book-it.

British Film Institute

As part of the Innovate UK funded Cross-sector exploration contest we worked with the British Film Institute (BFI) on a challenge related to using data to understand and connect with cinema audiences”. The challenge explored ways to extend the experience of watching a film to reach audiences before, during and after the cinema experience. Digital tools and services were sought that could create new forms of analytics which improve the theatre’s understanding of its customers and by extension, to enhance their relationship with those customers.

The winning company Tempster built a mobile app, UsherU, which allowed cinemas to sell empty seats to local consumers in real time. Users were able to favourite their local cinemas and get notifications when they ran last minute special offers.

Live Nation

As part of the Innovate UK funded Cross-sector exploration contest we worked with the Live Nation on a challenge related to engaging audiences at music festivals. We helped them to define a challenge that looked for novel approaches to enable music festival producers to understand their audiences better and to be able to provide music fans with a more engaging experience. A digital solution was sought to gain behavioural insights for customer engagement, retention and commerce opportunities and to enhance the festival experience beyond the attraction of the festival headliner.

The winners, Crowd Connected, built Colocator, a cloud-based software platform for tracking mobile connected devices. The software turns customers into a connected sensor network and uses aggregated location histories to provide real-time predictive analytics. It harvests, stores and analyses aggregated location data using signals from mobile phones, wearable devices and other connected hardware.

British Library

As part of the Innovate UK funded data innovation contest we worked with the British Library on a challenge related to enhancing the value of public domain data. The British Library had a large collection of material in the public domain available through online platforms such as Flickr however, once this material was released into the public domain they had no way of tracking how it was re-used. We helped them to set a challenge to find a successful solution to allow public institutions to better quantify and optimise the economic impact of releasing content into the public domain.

A dashboard called Visibility, was built by New Fictions, the winner of the challenge. It proactively searched for British Library’s content on the web and gave a detailed breakdown of where, how and who it was being used by.


As part of the Innovate UK funded data innovation contest we worked with EE on a challenge related to commercialisation of mobile data. EE recognised that consumers’ use of smart phones produced a rich source of near-real-time and historic data that is of value to potential business insight and intelligence, of benefit not just to the mobile operators who capture that data but also to third parties given access to it on an anonymised, aggregated basis.

The challenge therefore was to find new applications, tools and services to help realise the value of the data gathered by telecommunications companies. A digital solution could revolve around tools, applications and services that build on the data to provide value to consumers and citizen and also tools that help to present and report the data so that it is useful to third parties.

The winner of the challenge, Indestinate, built a platform called Now Arriving that utilises near real time and historic based location data to deliver personalised travel experiences to the consumer.


As part of the Innovate UK funded sharing economy innovation contest we worked with Kingfisher on a challenge related to sharing innovation in home improvement. Although there are currently communities who are sharing their knowledge and skills in the DIY sector, it is happening informally and in isolated instances. People are also seeking creative ideas online such as via Pinterest, to gain inspiration for their home improvement projects on an ad hoc basis. This challenge’s aim was to find innovative sharing ideas, services and platforms that added value to the customers’ home-improvement experience. Digital solutions needed to harness the power of communities, be easy to access by large numbers of people and embrace online and in-store interactions.

The winners Makercase proposed a technology-driven ‘products as a service’ platform that delivers on-demand access to the physical goods consumers need to fulfil their creative ambitions. It helps consumers to discover and learn about the products they need whilst enabling manufacturers & suppliers to facilitate product interaction without the need for bricks and mortar outlets.

Clear Channel

As part of the Innovate UK funded innovation in urban spaces contest we worked with Clear Channel on a challenge related to city-scale communication. We helped them to explore how out of home advertising could deliver new ways to open the channels of communication between residents and their city, by exchanging information and data which would improve the day-to-day lives of residents and enhancing their use of city spaces and resources. Consideration was given to how the solution would compete for, and sustain attention, in a highly saturated visual environment.

Yello Brick Ltd, who won the challenge, is creating Bus Stop Buddies, connected portals at bus stops where people can interact with each other in a playful way. The city can also connect with its residents via the portals, such as via surveys to measure anything from the city’s happiness to what they want to see happen in their town.

Sharing Economy UK

As part of the Innovate UK funded sharing economy innovation contest we worked with Sharing Economy UK on a challenge related to trust in the sharing economy. Sharing Economy UK’s own work in creating a Trustmark for the sharing economy community led to us defining a challenge with them to find solutions to help to address issues of trust in the sector. This could either be trust between the platform and the user, or between users.

The winning company KnowNow proposed the Meaningful Consent API. The service provides identity verification via a registered form of identity such as passport, driving licence or Identity card. Secondly, it provides a mechanism to seek, record and validate consent for the service provider to access the users’ data.


As part of the Innovate UK funded quantified self innovation contest we worked with Saga on a challenge related to improved wellbeing in later life. Saga’s challenge focused on finding solutions that empowered older people to engage with self-tracking, in order to utilise their own data for improved wellbeing. The digital solution needed to be simple and easy to use, explore novel user interfaces and techniques, to encourage sustained use and to connect the user to others in a digital social setting, to encourage interaction and sociability.

As winner of the challenge, Orb Technologies is working on a prototype of their hardware, The Orb, which will help to mentally stimulate and engage older people in retirement villages and care homes via social interactions and group reminiscence activities.


As part of the Innovate UK funded Future Retail Innovation contest we worked with Unilever on a challenge related to “Seamless shopping”. This challenge looked at solutions to make the replenishment of regular everyday products (such as toothpaste) even easier. The winning solution needed to be scalable, simple to use, and enhance the experience of online shopping.

Action Artificial Intelligence, the winning company, will devise an AI system that works alongside messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp, to allow users to order products 10 times faster than average. The solution will enable people to order products simply by texting in their natural language with what they would like to do and the will not require any apps to download or the need to learn any keywords or complex systems.

LIFT Festival and Saatchi and Saatchi

As part of the Innovate UK funded Cross-sector exploration contest we worked with the Lift Festival and their advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi on a challenge related to engaging audiences at urban festivals. Urban festivals have the unique opportunity to utilise mobile technology to offer innovative and personal experiences of the festival to encourage engagement in the event. A challenge was created to discover new innovative ways of using mobile technology to engage with a younger audience across a city-wide nomadic festival in multiple venues; and to gather greater audience data through a more interactive, responsive online experience.

Adio, who won, created Elevate, mobile app based on an evolving radio schedule, curated to present an engaging mix of background, contextual and supplementary audio content.

Transport for London

As part of the Innovate UK funded innovation in urban spaces contest we worked with Transport for London on a challenge related to enhanced travel data. Innovative solutions are always needed to help public transport passengers to understand the options for moving from one place to another, and understanding the route choices and the optimum way to get around. TfL worked with us to find new ways to use both existing and emerging data sets, to both improve the experience for the passenger and to help safely increase capacity.

The winner, Crowd Connected Ltd is currently building an app to help customers with their route planning based on predictive congestion. It will also help staff via mobile devices to allow them to better manage platforms and it will be available to control rooms to allow them to better manage the network.


As part of the Innovate UK funded innovation in urban spaces contest we worked with Atkins on a challenge related to citizen input into city design. Atkins acknowledged that citizen input into city planning is often a top down procedure with very minimal involvement such as focus groups or written feedback. A challenge was therefore set to find innovative methods of encouraging citizens to share their data – the essential ‘little data’ to complement the existing big data – to better inform the planning, design and management of urban spaces and buildings.

Blockbuilders is currently building the winning solution, a platform that allows young people to become active citizens in the redesign of their city using Minecraft. Their collaborative visions will help to better inform planning, design and growth of urban spaces.


As part of the Innovate UK funded Cross-sector exploration contest we worked with Argos on a challenge related to connected retail. The challenge looked for a solution that captured and leveraged smartphone technologies and mobile data for merchants to better understand and serve customers in a scalable and meaningful way. The successful solution needed to provide connected, convenient and compelling features and functions to engage customers on their own mobile devices, when passing by, entering or browsing within a store.

Jamgo, as the winner of the challenge, created Lighthouse, a management platform for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon devices allowing anyone with a smartphone to interact with their surroundings in an entirely new, digital way.

Ingram Content Group

As part of the Innovate UK funded data innovation contest we worked with Ingram on a challenge related to processing data efficiently. This challenge looked at ways in which ebook sales data could be more efficiently harvested and presented to book publishers. Solutions needed to look at ways to capture and present data that could be standardised and simplified, so that publishers would be able to expand their distribution beyond a handful of major digital retailers.

SystemSync Solutions, the winner of the challenge, built an ETL (extract-transform-load) tool architected on top of public cloud file-sharing services like Dropbox, Box and Google Drive, which enabled eBooks sales data to be collected from disparate international retailers and presented the data back to publishers in a consistent and standardised manner.

Since winning the, SystemSync have gone from strength to strength. They raised £800,000 seed investment in March 2015 and in December 2015, they raised a further £800,000 of investment, as part of an equity investment round of £1.5 million. They are now looking to close this round by raising an additional £700,000.


As part of the Innovate UK funded sharing economy innovation contest we worked with Nesta on a challenge related to encouraging new sectors to explore the sharing economy. The sharing economy is growing at an exponential rate however; some sectors have not benefited from this burgeoning ecosystem. Nesta set a challenge to help open up new sectors in the market. Applicants were advised to avoid already saturated areas of the sharing economy such as ride/car sharing schemes, short term rental services and time/skills sharing.

Winning company Digital Algorithms proposed a sharing economy platform for volunteering. This online solution securely stores information about local opportunities and volunteers and matches them intelligently.


As part of the Innovate UK funded quantified self innovation contest we worked with Bupa on a challenge related to re-imagining data capture. Bupa identified that user engagement within the ‘quantified self’ theme was a barrier to long term behaviour change. We helped them to craft a challenge around finding innovative means of recording data relevant to quantified self for wellbeing applications. This could involve either reinventing familiar technologies, such as text messaging, implementing emerging technologies, such as augmented reality, or enabling more “sensorial” experiences, such as using voice or images.

The winning solution by Sentimoto, will be investigating different methods for capturing social interactions on smart phones and smart watches within older people, to detect their social wellbeing and their level of social isolation.

London College of Fashion

As part of the Innovate UK funded Future Retail Innovation contest we worked with London College of Fashion on a challenge related to Future of fitting. London College of Fashion had identified a significant opportunity for innovation across the virtual fit landscape owing to high rates of garment returns either online or in store. We helped them to set a challenge that looked for solutions to optimise the fitting experience. Solutions could explore improving metadata to increase adoption across the sector, improving accuracy through the use of new technologies and approaches, or provide a real-time and truly interactive virtual fit experience.

The winner, Cephalometrics, have designed a unique digital platform that makes it easier to create unique, made-to-measure spectacles. The design will make simplify the process of finding and fitting glasses and uses 3D scanning to ensure a spectacle frame which fits the wearer to sub-millimetre accuracy.

Syco Entertainment

As part of the Innovate UK funded Cross-sector exploration contest we worked with the Syco Entertainment on a challenge related to digital analytics for talent scouting. While digital has helped to create new channels which allow musical talent to emerge such as YouTube or SoundCloud sifting through the endless amount of new online content can still be a very labour intensive and costly process.

There will always be a need for human judgement to be the ultimate arbiter for good talent, however digital can play a role in helping those wanting to find new talent to narrow the field of choice. We helped SYCO Entertainment to set a challenge to look for tools and services which can help to automate the process of spotting new talent online.

Vidiro, who won, worked with SYCO Entertainment to build an analytical system to support them in detecting new talent for the X Factor TV show by automatically scanning YouTube for emerging artists. The system was successful and resulted in business for Vidiro who further developed the solution to meet the needs of brands and agencies looking for talent to work with on influencer marketing campaigns, and by record labels to support their A&R activities.


As part of the Innovate UK funded Cross-sector exploration contest we worked with Holition on a challenge related to providing an innovative in-store retail experience. Bricks-and-mortar stores are still an important part of the retail ecosystem, but physical shops need to be reinvented to work alongside other channels such as online and mobile. The challenge therefore was set to find creative applications of technology that could make the physical store a more engaging space for consumers, and a space where brands could deliver more compelling product offerings.

The winners, Pufferfish, built a 3D multi-touch volumetric display designed for the future store. The solution gave customers the freedom to navigate through a virtual product inventory at a real world scale, in a real world environment.

Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust

As part of the Innovate UK funded data innovation contest we worked with Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust on a challenge related to data visualisation and analytical decision making. Due to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) assuming responsibility for the majority of the NHS budget in 2013, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust wanted to test new models of integrated care, collaboration and rapid procurement of tailored services around the needs of people in a community setting. We helped them to therefore set a challenge to find visualisation tools to aide commissioners of health services to navigate this landscape and make strategic decisions to deliver a sustainable integrated healthcare system.

Optimity Advisors, who won the challenge, created an intuitive data visualisation which would help local authorities and health decision makers understand how key measures concerning health outcomes and performance varied by electoral ward and over time. The visualisation offered a low cost to maintain and could be updated locally at far lower cost than existing similar applications.

Peterborough City Council

As part of the Innovate UK funded sharing economy innovation contest we worked with Peterborough City Council on a challenge related to data and analytics for sharing economy cities. Cities often hold vast amounts of data, but these data sets sit in silos within different departments and often in different formats. The challenge was therefore set for digital solutions to combine multiple available datasets in innovative ways to assist in understanding, analysing and visualising the existing local sharing economy landscape. The ultimate aim was to identify the gaps where there may be opportunities for new sharing services.

The winner Folk Labs created MetroFlow, living systems insight tool built on the ResourceAPI data platform. It yields visualisations of urban systems and resource flows, based on open and crowdsourced data, enabling local government, business and community to see the same picture and work together to increase the sharing potential of the city.


As part of the Innovate UK funded sharing economy innovation contest we worked with Airbnb on a challenge related to travel and tourism in the sharing economy. This challenge looked for ways to add value to the tourism and travel experience through a digital solution that could provide a more seamless and authentic experience for travellers. Solutions needed to help to drive businesses and people to new neighbourhoods that wouldn’t otherwise benefit from tourism, and help more local people to benefit from the tourism experience.

The winners, Bubbl, created a location based mobile technology that enables geofence triggered functionality managed from a web based dashboard. The app delivered personalised information about the surrounding area and attractions available based on the users’ location.


As part of the Innovate UK funded sharing economy innovation contest we worked with Crossrail on a challenge related to sustainable construction. Crossrail acknowledged that major infrastructure projects face huge efficiency and sustainability challenges and although there is currently work underway to address these issues, much could be done to aid this. We helped Crossrail to set a challenge that called for digital solutions that could help make the construction industry smarter and more sustainable, by reducing the amount of waste materials it produces.

The winning solution, #LOOP, created a digital platform for a market-led solution to waste reduction and value realisation in the construction industry by enabling project components and materials to be valued in-situ prior to ‘project end-of-life’ and demobilisation.

Jamie Oliver Group

As part of the Innovate UK funded quantified self innovation contest we worked with Jamie Oliver Group on a challenge related to quantified nutrition. We helped them to define a challenge which explored how self-monitoring could move beyond ‘number tracking’ to inform food and cooking choices, positively change behaviour and ultimately improve wellbeing. The solution for adults, children and/or families needed to empower them to eat more healthily.

The winning company Evolyst, is currently building an evidence based app called Health Heroes which will help families to quantify their portion sizes, while learning the correct servings of different food groups. Evolyst will utilise their knowledge in health psychology within the solution and build in elements of gamification and persuasive technologies.

Staffordshire County Council

As is the challenge for local governments across the UK, Staffordshire County Council is facing cuts to health and social care budget and were looking to investigate ways in which they could continue to offer the same or higher levels of service whilst lowering these costs. We worked with the council to assess the current policies in place and to identify areas where digital innovation could improve efficiency or enable new services. It was decided that the key area was and empowering citizens to make their own health choices.

We broke this down into a core challenge looking at empowering working-aged adults to keep check on their own health. Once the challenge was confirmed we the ran an open innovation process to find companies to apply and help solve the challenge. We supported the council in understanding the different benefits of the digital ideas put forward.

The winning startup, Sentimoto supports self-care and family-care by providing a full-circle digital health and wellbeing service. Wellbeing data is collected without requiring user input, analysed to infer insights novel behavioural patterns, and shared with users and their support network. The insights are also used to create a tailored list of activities for the users and to inform them of specific conditions that may affect them. The company are currently working with the council to confirm the details of their trial which is due to launch spring 2017.