Small businesses are being offered the chance to work with some of the country’s biggest brands, including Argos and Procter & Gamble, through a new digital innovation competition run by IC tomorrow, part of the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).
The ‘Digital Innovation Contest: Cross Sector Exploration’ is offering digitally-minded start-ups and SMEs the chance to win a share of £225,000.
Made up of nine challenges across three themes, the competition invites entrants to provide creative solutions for a range of real-life digital strategies. The challenges have been set by some of the biggest names in retail, arts, entertainment, culture, publishing, film and music.
As well as benefiting from up to £25,000 in funding, the nine winning SMEs will retain all of their IP and be invited to work alongside the business giants to implement their solutions.
Companies taking part include Argos, SYCO Entertainment, LIFT/Saatchi & Saatchi, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Holition, Live Nation, Penguin Random House, The Barbican and BFI (British Film Institute).
Matt Sansam, programme manager at IC tomorrow, said: “This competition is an exciting opportunity for start-ups looking to see their ideas come to life. Our main objective is to pair today’s burgeoning tech-talent with established businesses and organisations so they can share insights on adapting to, and making the most of, a continuously developing digital economy.”
The contest categories, their sub-challenges, and their partners include:
- Connected retail – Argos
- Smart tools for brand loyalty – Procter & Gamble
- The future store – Holition.
- Engaging festival audiences: Urban – LIFT (supported by Saatchi & Saatchi)
- Engaging festival audiences: Music – Live Nation
- Engaging audience interaction with cultural programmes – The Barbican.
- Digital analytics for talent scouting – SYCO Entertainment
- Reading analytics – Penguin Random House
- Data and the cinema audience – BFI.
The deadline for applications is on Wednesday 26 February 2013. For more information, please visit http://www.bit.ly/crosssector
1) Connected retail
This challenge is to develop a solution that captures and leverages smartphone technologies and mobile data for merchants to better understand and serve customers in a customised, scalable and meaningful way. The successful solution will provide compelling features and functions to encourage customers to engage on their own mobile devices when passing by, entering or browsing within a store.
Neil Tinegate, head of digital innovation at Argos, said: “This is a great initiative from IC tomorrow and we are delighted to be involved. Argos has always innovated in multi-channel retail and is in a unique position with 735 online collection points and a growing mobile business, which now accounts for 16% of our total sales.
“We are really excited to get some new perspectives from start-up companies and entrepreneurs on how we can really push forward with joined-up customer experiences across our physical and mobile channels. What’s more, we can offer talented companies a real opportunity to influence and be part of our journey towards being a digital retail leader.”
2) Smart tools for brand loyalty
Partner: Procter & Gamble
This challenge is to find alternative ways for brands to reach, engage and build closer and more meaningful relationships with their consumers. Applicants should propose ways of utilising digital technology to drive interaction with a brand and around specific products or ranges.
Ian Saker, section head at P&G, said: “Smart digital technology has changed the way we live. It has allowed us to become more connected with each other and our environment and has driven more interactivity in our day-to-day lives.
“We are looking for a new innovation to communicate performance to the consumer (or between consumers) and a way to provide a more personalised and holistic experience for people using our products. There are exciting opportunities and possibilities that this challenge could inspire.
“We want to see how smart digital technology can help to build closer, more meaningful and more interactive relationships between people and our shaving and oral care brands by improving both their performance and the user-experience.”
3) The future store
This challenge seeks creative applications of technology for solutions that make the physical store a more engaging space for consumers, and a space where brands can deliver more compelling product offerings. Applicants should propose a solution that is simple to operate, understand, and engage with in a meaningful way.
Jonathan Chippindale, CEO of Holition, said: “What really excites me is the in-store experience and how we can merge the touch and feel of a retail store with innovative technology. It’s not just about using mobile screens to look at products and pressing a button, it’s more about creating retail theatre and how we can integrate the whole shopping experience seamlessly from browsing a store, trying on outfits and exploring the latest ranges, through to making the final purchase.
“The future of digital is constantly evolving, which makes this industry incredibly exciting and we are keen to explore how far innovation can go in order to turn these creative ideas into reality.”