Smart City Testbed with MediaCityUK and Connected Places Catapult

MediaCityUK for UP Ventures
Innovation Director
Technology strategy and implementation I Testbed design & delivery I Cohort recruitment & community management I Stakeholder management I Commercial development
Big thanks to Danny Meaney, Caleb Conner and Emer Coleman as well as Steve Wilde and team at MCUK

The client

Situated in the City of Salford and home to the likes of the BBC, ITV, Ericsson, dock10 and Kellogg’s as well as more than 250 smaller media and digital businesses.  MediaCityUK is a vibrant, sustainable destination to work, live and play, on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal.

The brief

The team at MediaCityUK wanted to enhance their credentials as an Innovation District helping to tackle real-world problems. UP Ventures is the lead Innovation Partner of MCUK and I was therefore retained as the consulting Innovation Director for the project. I subsequently designed and delivered MediaCityUK's first Smart City Innovation Testbed.

The Smart City Innovation Testbed's overarching theme was centered around supporting human-to-human services. Its mission was to bring together a cohort of technology businesses that could help citizens do more with their lives safely and sustainably through technology.

  • How can places evolve and adapt to encourage meaningful interaction and creativity?
  • How can technology enhance sustainability and safety in existing and new building design?
  • Can technology positively enhance future business models for small and large-scale developments and the organisations they support?
  • How can places support Homes for Healthy Ageing?

The results

The Smart City Testbed brought together a cohort of 6 outstanding technology businesses with the potential for high growth.

The testbed allowed both MediaCityUK and the cohort to learn from each other.

Together, using my Innovation Framework, they were able to pilot solutions and use a unique group learning experience to solve problems and test ideas. Ultimately for both the corporate partner and the scaleup businesses they were able to demonstrate how they could create value in a real-world environment together.

MediaCityUK has been able to find new investment opportunities and to take the learnings from the testbed into other projects around the North West of England. These insights will potentially drive efficiencies at scale, providing better services, saving time and money.

The cohort have all been able to develop their businesses in a truly valuable way. Aside from piloting their solutions across MediaCityUK the carefully chosen group has gone on to collaborate in new ways. Several of the businesses have managed to win new contracts together across the UK.

The Smart City Testbed has been fantastic for us. It really is the gold standard in innovation programmes and has led a whole host of opportunites for our business thanks to Steve and the team. - John Griffiths, Founder, Safe House

UP Ventures has been retained as the lead innovation partner for MediaCityUK. Together we are now exploring ways to extend the testbed in new ways that fit with MCUKs innovation and business aspirations building capabilities for the future.

The final cohort

Atmo Technology is an air quality data company that uses IoT devices and advanced algorithms to help employers monitor the pollution levels that their staff are exposed to.

Cyber Defence Services is an IoT security platform OvertAI which monitors devices connected to the network and detects threats.

Hello Lamp Post has created a novel way for people to tell town planners how they think their built environment can be improved with the company now allowing people to converse with street furniture in over 25 countries around the world.

Secure Sensor Innovative Design has built an IoT system that allows organisations such as care homes and housing associations to monitor homes to enable people to live in their own homes for longer.

R-Com has developed a  comprehensive Smart City solution with a suite of sensors that can count passengers on public transport, measure air quality and monitor vehicles on roads with the firm also providing real-time analysis and IT support.

Pulse Systems have built an IoT platform on top of UK made and designed sensors that help businesses make a building ‘smart’ allowing for a better understanding of workspaces and how they affect people and the environment.

Main Photo by Orry Verducci on Unsplash