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See.Sense Wins top Prize in SME Competition to help shape Connected Cities of the Future

A company which aims to use technology to make cycling and cities safer, smarter and more enjoyable was crowned the overall winner of the BT Infinity Lab SME Awards 2016: Connected Cities, run in partnership with the Cabinet Office, MK:Smart* and TechHub.

See.Sense - a technology company based in Northern Ireland - won for its ICON intelligent and connected cycle light, which was judged to have the greatest potential to make a difference to the cities of the future. The company walked away with £15,000 prize money plus six month’s membership of TechHub, a global community set up to help technological entrepreneurs and start-ups.

As well as being a market-leading cycle light that keeps cyclists safer on the road, ICON contains sensors which collect high-quality data about any crashes, near miss-events, road surfaces, light levels and more. This information can then be used by city planners to create better cycling infrastructure and smart cities.

Possible uses for the data include identifying ‘hot spot’ areas where there are a high-frequency of ‘near-miss’ events and crashes, showing where the priority areas are to invest in cycling infrastructure, and identifying potholes before they’re fully formed, so that cities can repair them at lower cost before they become hazards.

The competition gave small to medium enterprises (SMEs) the chance to showcase their big ideas for innovative digital products and services to help cities become more connected, efficient and sustainable. Split into three categories - Smart City, Connected Society and the Internet of Things – with one being crowned overall winner, entries were received from 70 companies, with just eight making the final shortlist.

Each was invited to pitch ideas in a “Dragons’ Den” style showdown to a panel of industry experts from the Cabinet Office, the Department for Transport, TechHub, Milton Keynes Council, NHS England and BT.

The awards were fiercely contested and, after much deliberation, See.Sense won the Smart City prize as well as being judged the overall winner. They will now have the opportunity to work with MK:Smart, in one of the country’s most advanced Smart Cities, to turn their dream into a reality.

Irene McAleese, Co-founder and chief marketing officer, See.Sense, said: “We’re honoured to have won the Smart City prize and also be judged the overall winner given the high standard of entries we were up against. We’ve gained some valuable insights from the other companies who have taken part and the feedback we’ve had during the competition.

“Having the opportunity to develop our idea into something that will really help transform cities of the future and make a real impact on society is really exciting. Working with Milton Keynes will also be a fantastic case study to showcase our capabilities.”

Sitekit Ltd, a healthcare technology company from the Isle of Skye, won the Connected Society award for demonstrating how ICT can help society operate more sustainably with their eRedbook. This is the digital version of the existing paper-based Redbook - which all parents of new-born babies receive to record and manage the health and development of their child.

London-based Vivacity Labs was crowned winner of the Internet of Things category for its intelligent cameras, judged the most innovative technology solution in this field. The system enables the next generation of reactive traffic lights, and eliminates the need for time-consuming and expensive manual data collection by councils. Containing sensors which quantify the movement of cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles in real-time, they provide smart, hyper-local data for smart cities and intelligent transport systems.

Winners of the Connected Societies and Internet of Things categories receive £7,500 and six months support from BT to help develop their ideas.

Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said: "Being a smarter government is about recasting the relationship between the citizen and the state, making public services simpler, clearer and faster and taking advantage of state-of-the-art digital technologies.

"To achieve this, we need to draw on the expertise of digital innovators from all over the country, especially small businesses which we know to be some of the most innovative in the UK.

"I am delighted to be supporting these awards, and I give my heartfelt congratulations to the winners."

Ian Dalton, president of Government and Health, BT, said: “This competition has really highlighted the rich vein of dynamism and innovation that exists in the UK’s SME market. It demonstrates how they can make a big difference not only to the public sector but in helping shape our cities of the future through their imaginative digital products and services.  Initiatives such as this can really give companies that helping hand they need to turn their great ideas into reality.

“With around one million SME customers, BT has a strong interest in helping them to innovate and thrive. We also have a role to play in shaping connected cities of the future, so it’s great to work with the Cabinet Office and our other partners to play a part in helping both to develop.”

Geoff Snelson, Director of Strategy at Milton Keynes Council, added: “It’s been great to be part of the judging panel and hear all the exciting ideas from the competing SMEs. We’ve a very worthy winner and I’m looking forward to working with them to bring their ideas to life in Milton Keynes”.  

Andrew Tibbitts, Global Chief Operating Officer, TechHub, said: "It was brilliant to have so many competition entries from across Europe and the U.S. but what the day really showed was the quality of companies across the UK that are going to make our lives safer and smarter in the future". 

Connected Cities is the eighth in the series of competitions created to showcase SME digital innovation being run by the BT Infinity Lab. More information about BT’s Infinity Lab competitions is available at http://www.btplc.com/btinfinitylab/