Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Geospatial Industry in 2019

By Alex Wrottesley


Data linked to location has the potential to change our lives for the better, improve our economy and create jobs. The geography of the spaces we live, work and move through are fundamental to our everyday lives. It impacts how we get around, our education, how we communicate with one another, our productivity and our access to healthcare. Simply put, if we can unlock the power of location, through collecting insightful data, we can deliver huge benefits to society and to the economy.

The global market for geospatial data is huge, with an estimated size of $300bn (£231bn), which is currently growing at a rate of 12% a year. The sector will play a key part in creating more efficient energy and transport infrastructure, as well as aiding the advancement of technologies such as machine learning, autonomous vehicles, and 5G.

Companies like Uber and Citymapper, which rely on location data to deliver their service, have become almost ubiquitous, but how do we ensure new and emerging start-ups in the geospatial sector continue to find success and grow?

We believe these opportunities can only be fully realised when public sector organisations and government departments work together to support their growth and broaden access to key national datasets that can enhance their products and services.

To help deliver on this vision, we built on our years of experience running innovation challenges by opening the world’s first geospatial innovation hub – Geovation – in 2015.

Geovation is an award-winning initiative of Britain ’s national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey, supported by  HM Land Registry. Its mission is to launch and grow innovative solutions to social, environmental and economic challenges that harness the power of location data and technology.  We do this by providing start-ups with access to data and infrastructure. Our connections with central and local government, and with businesses, such as IBM, ESRI and Cyient, enable us to support location-data entrepreneurs with expert advice, funding and networking opportunities.

Location is at the heart of the most successful digital products and services, and together, land and property make the foundation of our national economy.  The 84 businesses we have supported so far have created solutions for over 10 market sectors in the process while raising millions in investment and creating hundreds of jobs in the process.

Our 2018 intake of companies showcase how geospatial data can be used to tackle some of our most challenging problems. For example, Trik combines drone footage and geospatial data to create 3D models of infrastructure and building sites, enabling companies to better plan infrastructure or building projects, and detect structural changes. While Skyscape uses data and AI to ‘unleash the value of rooftops.’ The company uses its technology to identify rooftop space that could be utilised to help tackle urban challenges, such as transport, energy or connectivity.  Then there is Refill, an app that reduces plastic bottle dependency by directing people to free tap-water refill points.

The opportunities created by intelligent use of geospatial data are vast. It could potentially lead to solutions in many sectors, ranging from healthcare, energy, telecoms, retail, to even helping tackle environmental challenges.

If we are to deliver real benefit to the economy, society and the environment we need to provide the support that helps innovative companies thrive. It could potentially unlock billions for the UK economy, create jobs, while enabling us to tackle the Grand Challenges set out by the UK Government in its Industrial Strategy: AI, Ageing Society, Clean Growth and Future of Mobility.

As we look forward to the year ahead, we’re more excited than ever about the role of geospatial data in delivering on these ambitious goals.

If you’re a start-up looking to make a difference, we want to hear from you. Your business can be headquartered anywhere in the world, as long as you’re willing to set up an operational team in the UK – and we’re confident you won’t find a better environment to make your ambitions a reality.

But don’t take our word for it. This is what Ed, CEO, Flock had to say about us:

“I would recommend the Geovation Accelerator Programme very highly… It’s a fantastic environment to work in; you get access to a range of experts in lots of fields, fantastic consultants who will help you form your business plan, take your business plan to market, grow your team and grow your product. And it’s a fun and friendly environment to work in!”

We’ll be open for applications from 21st January – 4th March. If you’ve been thinking of starting up in 2019 get in touch! email or follow us on Twitter @geovation Alex is Head of Geovation. Follow him on Twitter @lexonic for updates.

Geovation is an initiative of Ordnance Survey, Britain’s national mapping agency, in partnership with HM Land Registry.

The Geovation Accelerator Programme next opens for applications on 21st January 2019. The Accelerator is open to any early-stage GeoTech and PropTech startup operating in the UK. 

Alex heads up Geovation – a ground-breaking location data lab backed by Ordnance Survey (OS) and HM Land Registry tasked with identifying and supporting innovative new businesses that use location or property data. Prior to joining OS Alex built a career launching media and technology businesses in the UK, Spain, Russia and Indonesia. At Geovation he combines his experience of startups, geospatial and digital media to help the next generation of entrepreneurs realise their ambitions.


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