Supporting IoT Tribe’s 2019 Programme

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< Project Overview >

Introduction

IoT Tribe (https://www.iottribe.org) helps organisations build resilient global technology ecosystems. At the heart of what we do are our equity-free accelerators which are delivered to startups that have demonstrated product market fit. These programmes act as catalysts for technology-driven innovation, bringing together stakeholders from the public sector, corporates, SMEs and academia.

Project aims

The objectives were to:
1. Strengthen the University’s role in the regional IoT ecosystem, through partnership with IoT Tribe and Barnsley Digital Campus
2. Position Pitch-In and the University as key stakeholders in IoT regionally and nationally
3. Provide an opportunity for University staff and students to engage with the selected 9 start-ups, exposing them to cutting-edge technology, entrepreneurship and innovation
4. Offer the opportunity for several start-ups to relocate to the Sheffield City Region (SCR), bringing higher value jobs and impacting the business agenda and local economy
5. Offer opportunities for innovation and operational efficiencies in regional firms (especially SMEs) through adoption of the start-ups’ technologies
6. Build the pipeline to help draw down regional investment funds to grow the businesses – expanding their technology offers and ability to collaborate
7. Achieve greater connection with the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), corporates, tech companies, local authorities and the investment community

What was done?

IoT Tribe helped Pitch-In deliver its Regional Engagement strategy in the Sheffield City Region and surrounding areas, in breaking down the following barriers to the adoption of IoT Technologies by introducing Pitch-In to the startups in the Industrial Tech cohort 2019, delivered at the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley.

Information was distributed through the IoT Tribe networks and was a central theme in the accelerator launch held at the DMC in March 2019.

Results

The funding was a welcome contribution to the acceleration programme. In addition, the launch event, which was attended by over 50 people, highlighted the opportunities to engage with Pitch-in and collaborations with the University of Sheffield and the rest of the science and technology ecosystem.

Deliverables and other tangible outputs

The funding contributed to the delivery of the acceleration programme for 9 selected technology startups. Part of this has been the delivery of an event with 75 registrations (over 50 attendees) that has helped to disseminate the Pitch-In offering.

Impact

The impact can be seen on several levels:
– Addressing the low level of engagement from SME manufacturers/supply chain in digital adoption and the tech start-up community
– Increasing and spreading knowledge about the potential of IoT technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in general
– Facilitating collaboration with Universities and the tech community
– Providing case studies or demonstrators of IoT technologies in action and the impact of IoT on operations and business models
– Increasing availability and visibility of tech talent in the SCR and UK as a whole
– Increasing expertise in relation to applying for tech-related funding/investment (through funders being part of ecosystem)
In more concrete terms, three of the participating start-ups have gone on to win R&D funding. While we cannot share the names, the results are:
– One obtained Pitch-In mini-project funding (£15,000-20,000) that paved the way for a £100,000 grant from Innovate UK’s Covid-19 response programme.
– Two are part of an Industry-led consortium focusing on cyber-security, securing over £330,000
– A series of regular discussions was initiated between IoT Tribe and Pitch-In. This has led to Barnsey’s Digital Media Centre (DMC) becoming an experimental case study for network IoT connectivity for a Smart Cities Pitch-In project with researchers at Sheffield’s Urban Flows Observatory (https://urbanflows.ac.uk). The University and IoT Tribe are committed to pursuing collaborative opportunities to build further links between Sheffield and Barnsley.

Next steps

IoT Tribe will strive to continue to build up technological capacity in the SCR. Discussions are currently underway regarding the possibility of delivering two accelerators, one focused on Industrial Technologies, the other on Connected Places. Both would be in partnership with SCR organisations.

Lessons learned

Although there is still much to be done, the ecosystem events held in the SCR have continued to draw in SMEs, profile the SCR technological assets and make connections between stakeholders.

Relatively small amounts of funding can develop a positive working relationship. This is a relationship that all see as beneficial. We are both much better informed as to what each other does and the relationship is a proactive, positive and practical one. There is ongoing collaboration between us.

The profile of IoT Tribe and the Digital Media Centre Pitch-In was significantly increased. Pitch-In management regard IoT Tribe as a local success story and a natural ally for its development of IoT collaboration in the region.

Diversity continues to be a challenge, despite it being a priority for all the partners involved in the delivery of the accelerator.Some of the ecosystem events did not deliver enough value for the startups, many of whom had to travel to the events. Since Pitch-In, we have been more selective about the themes and do not insist that all events are mandatory.

Furthermore, in the light of experience during the subsequent pandemic, we give considerable thought as to what can be delivered online.

What has Pitch-In done for you?

Beyond the welcome financial contribution to the costs of delivering the programme, Pitch-In has ensured that IoT Tribe continues to develop close ties with the University of Sheffield.

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