When GCHQ opened its new site in Manchester bringing with them hundreds of jobs in technology and data to the region, MediaCityUK was chosen to host a series of initiatives to bring GCHQ closer to the wider tech and business community in the region. CurveFinder® founder Steven Thomas was subsequently appointed as Interim Programme Director on behalf of UP Ventures to design and deliver two important innovation programmes. Each would bring GCHQ's world-class engineering team and selected tech businesses together to solve problems relating to Citizen Safety, Open Data and Smart Technology.
The Safe Citizen Digital Innovation was aimed at improving citizen safety in a digitally connected world. The 16-week Accelerator Programme was designed for companies with technology solutions and customer-facing products and services.
This first of two cohorts focused on living safely in a connected digital world with a clear focus on what matters to citizens. We were specifically looking for solutions that would make a real impact on day-to-day experiences across a range of digital scenarios. These included:
Across the globe, citizens and businesses were pivoting to living with COVID-19. As we adapted to this new normal, GCHQ felt it was more important than ever to protect, support and empower our communities by harnessing the best of technology.
Our Data Science Innovation Co-Lab harnessed data science, machine learning and AI techniques helping scaleups with tangible products or services that addressed challenges with
CurveFinder® Founder and UP Managing Partner, Steven Thomas designed a unique learning experience that took GCHQ and each programme cohort through both a practical and creative process. Each interaction was designed to enable knowledge sharing and specific problem-solving.
We were able to recruit two high-quality cohorts that were amongst the best that GCHQ had worked with in any previous programme in any location across the UK. Throughout each programme, GCHQ mentors were able to learn from the talented group scouted by Steven and the team and were able to take these learnings into their own work. Each business that made up our cohorts benefitted massively from the practical problem-solving frameworks and challenging format designed by Steven. Many have gone on to win commercial contracts and/or considerable investment to aid their growth.
Successful participants included Bellrock Technology, which was included in the G-Cloud 12 framework as a data analytics supplier for the UK government. As well as Journey Protector, a developer of technology that helps prevent cargo theft and human trafficking in the logistics industry, led by CEO Anne Lawlor, which has secured significant funding since completing the programme.
These businesses have real potential to improve people’s lives in an increasingly digitally connected world, from helping the elderly to reducing emissions.
We’re excited to be supporting the thriving technology ecosystem in Greater Manchester, connecting ingenious entrepreneurs and creative technologists with the mission of GCHQ to help tackle some of our hardest challenges.
Gav Smith, GCHQ’s Director General for Technology