Category: Challenge 2012-13

Streetkleen: Helping make Britain a better place to live

By , 23 September, 2014 8:15 am

By Gary Downie, MD of Streetkleen Bio

Streetkleen Bio was the winner of the ‘How do we improve the environmental performance of British business?’ GeoVation Challenge.

StreetKleen Logo

They say inspiration can strike in the most unusual places. For me my eureka moment came three years ago while trying to maneuver my son’s buggy around the piles of dog poo littering the streets near my home.

Everyone deserves to live in a nice environment and as studies have shown, dog fouling can really bring neighbourhoods down, deterring both investment and visitors.

Dog Poo BinI was incensed that some irresponsible dog owners refused to clear up after their pets but I was also struck by the waste. In nature nothing is wasted, but we humans have an annoying habit of just burying things in the ground instead of doing something useful with them. What a waste of natural assets!

Dog poo, just like sewage and farm manure is an excellent feedstock for anaerobic digestion – a biological process that produces bio gas for heating and creating electricity. It’s a technology that’s been around for decades, but as energy prices soar and the impact on our climate of burning fossil fuels becomes apparent, government and industry alike are looking to anaerobic digestion as an important part of the renewable energy strategy. Continue reading 'Streetkleen: Helping make Britain a better place to live'»

An innovative approach to dog waste

By , 12 August, 2014 8:15 am

Gary Downie, of Streetkleen Bio’s idea to develop a practical, innovative solution based around the anaerobic digestion of dog waste to create usable energy (methane), was awarded funding in the GeoVation Challenge to improve business environmental performance.

image of some one collecting dog wasteDog fouling is a major issue for many of our towns and cities and is consistently raised as a public concern.  Local Authorities have not been able to provide a long term, lasting solution to overcome this issue. In addition, the collection and disposal of dog waste is problematic with decisions needed on where and how many dog waste disposal points to allocate and how often are they used and need servicing?   In the UK, there are over 1200 tonnes of dog waste generated daily (Pet Foods Manufacturing Association 2012) and the financial cost of sending Local Authority collected dog waste to landfill is estimated at £72 million per year (Keep Britain Tidy). The environmental cost is also substantial and mountains of small plastic bags containing dog waste are sent to landfill daily, often in bags that take decades to degrade. Finding an alternative disposal method for dog waste is a challenge.

Continue reading 'An innovative approach to dog waste'»

Wales Coast Path – connecting communities and visitors

By , 24 June, 2014 8:00 am

In 2012 we ran a GeoVation Challenge asking for ideas to better connect visitors and communities along the Wales Coast Path, helping to stimulate economic growth and opportunities in the coastal areas.

One of the winners of the GeoVation Challenge was Living Paths!, an idea from Robin Owain to address the problem of lack of local information available on the Wales Coast Path. Some information is published in pamphlets but these are expensive to distribute and difficult to source. Publishing online is possible but can be difficult due to the complexities of web-authoring for most people. Communities in Wales often find it difficult to share information about their locality such as historic buildings, circular paths, geographical features and other points of interest.

Living Paths! Llwybrau Byw! is a project that aims to empower local communities along the Wales Coast Path to create Wikipedia® pages and post stories about their communities, allowing diverse local information to become accessible.

Local people know best about their locality, sights to see and facilities available and through Wikipedia, a digital encyclopaedia; they can share that information.  Better, richer information on Wikipedia benefits the users of the path as well as local people, connecting visitors with local communities through information on locations and points of interest (such as wildlife, shipwreck sites, castles, local tales etc).

Continue reading 'Wales Coast Path – connecting communities and visitors'»

New GeoVation booklet published!

By , 17 June, 2014 8:00 am

We’re pleased to announce the latest version of the GeoVation Booklet has now been published!  The booklet includes information on GeoVation Challenges and case studies on winning ideas!

The booklet has some intereImage of the GeoVation booklet cover and hyperlink to downloadsting facts about GeoVation which was launched in October 2009. In that time:

2511 participants have registered

630 ideas have been submitted

77 teams have participated in GeoVation Camps and

28 winners have been awarded a share of over £637,000 in innovation funding to develop their ventures.

There’s information on all our GeoVation  challenges from our first GeoVation Awards Programme in 2009  through our problem focussed challenges aimed at building local resilience. In 2010 we launched 2 challenges focussed on how we could feed ourselves in Britain and reduce the environmental impact of transport in a sustainable way. In 2012 we ran a challenge focussed on resolving neighbourhood problems and building a sense of community, and a further challenge themed around connecting communities and visitors along the new Wales Coast Path to tie in with its launch.  In 2013 the GeoVation Challenge focussed on improving environmental performance, set against the context that UK companies could save £6 billion a year if they used resources more efficiently. Our latest  challenge aimed at encouraging active lifestyles  was focussed on the £8bn cost to the UK economy as a result of our inactivity.

We’ve made the booklet available online, so you can find out how you can innovate with GeoVation, the GeoVation journey, about the 28 winners Ordnance Survey has funded  and the ideas they have launched or which are in development.

Download your copy of the GeoVation booklet and find out more!

Individual case studies are also available on our website

If you would like a copy of the GeoVation booklet sent to you, please email us at

GeoVation Challenges are open to entrepreneurs, developers, community groups, government and individuals. They are focussed on finding innovative and useful ways of using geographical information, including open data and tools, to build new ventures that will generate social, economic and/ or environmental value.



We’re really excited! For many months now we have been working on Click here to download booklet creating a GeoVation booklet to include information on  GeoVation Challenges and case studies on winning ideas – and now its published!

The booklet  has some interesting facts about GeoVation which has been running since October 2009.  In that time:

  • 1448 participants have registered
  • 509 ideas have been submitted
  • 57 teams have participated in GeoVation Camps and
  • 20 winners have been awarded a share of over £435, 000 in innovation funding to develop their ventures.

GeoVation Challenges are open to entrepreneurs, developers, community groups, government and individuals.  They are focussed on finding innovative and useful ways of using geographical information, including open data and tools, to build new ventures that will generate social, economic and/ or environmental value.

We’ve made the booklet available online,  so you can find out more about how you can innovate with GeoVation, the GeoVation journey,  the ideas we have funded so far and the people who make GeoVation happen.  We’ve also made the case studies available individually on line – see our case study map.

Download your copy of the GeoVation booklet and find out more!

- See more at:

Element Green Recycling – The Journey so far

By , 9 April, 2014 8:10 am

Today’s guest blog is fromAyo Isinkaye, CEO of Element Green Recycling, one of our winners of the  ‘How can we help British Business improve environmental performance?’ Challenge supported by the Environment Agency. Element Green Recycling won funding of £22,000 to develop their idea – ‘How to reduce costs and make money by separating your waste ’(Green Alchemist).



Waiting to hear if my proposal was one of the four winners for the GeoVation competition was the most nail-biting moment of my life. Element Green Recycling’s Green Alchemist project was the fourth name to be announced! I was cool on the outside when I stood up to collect our prize and smile at the camera, but I was doing cartwheels on the inside. Two days of working hard at the camp, refining and redeveloping my business idea had paid off. Continue reading 'Element Green Recycling – The Journey so far'»

Minecraft in the classroom

By , 26 March, 2014 8:00 am

Today’s guest blog is from Zoe Ross of Happy Education.  Zoe was awarded funding of £28,000 to develop her idea, GeoCraft, in our GeoVation Challenge, How can we help British businesses improve environmental performance, supported by the Environment Agency.

GeoCraft enables schools and local businesses to work together to encourage learning about sustainability through Minecraft,  a hugely popular video game set in virtual 3D worlds made up of cubes of different materials. Using Ordnance Survey data, it would stimulate children to think about environmental challenges and ideas to solve these, and could be fed back to the local business to implement. Zoe tells us what’s been happened since winning funding form GeoVation.

‘That was the best lesson ever!’

This is music to the ears of any teacher and something that I’ve been lucky enough to hear on many occasions in the last few months as I have been trialing our GeoCraft project with the Year 6 pupils at Yorston Lodge School.

Pupils’ delight in and enthusiasm for the club has been palpable and their feedback and suggestions for improving the project has been invaluable.

MineCraft building tatton park mansion

Building the Tatton Park mansion as part of our work on Knutsford

Continue reading 'Minecraft in the classroom'»

Wow! Winning the GeoVation Challenge

By , 6 January, 2014 8:00 am

As the closing date for the  current GeoVation Challenge to encourage active lifestyles approaches, I thought you’d enjoy this guest post from Gary Downie of  Streetkleen Bio, winners of our Business Environment Challenge.   In his post Gary explains some of the benefits of entering the challenge and what it can lead to.

“It’s  been 6 months  since Streetkleen Bio were announced as a winner of the GeoVation Environmental Challenge.”

“Wow” is the general consensus in the office when I make others aware of this fact….

….But what a 6 months it has been!

Let’s start by looking back….

1. understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.

As Founder and Managing Director of Streetkleen Bio Ltd I can honestly say that entering the GeoVation Challenge was one of, if not the single best decision I/we have made as an organisation.

Photo of Gary Downie at Smarta Awards Ceremony

Dr John Walsh and Gary Downie attending the Smarta Awards ceremony at Cafe De Paris in London.

Six months ago we had been developing our ideas from a small garage in North Wales. Our idea of generating renewable energy from municipally collected dog waste was seen by many as a novelty, almost comical to some. However, we had Continue reading 'Wow! Winning the GeoVation Challenge'»

Creating a Minecraft map of Britain

By , 2 October, 2013 8:00 am

During the summer, Ordnance Survey welcomed a number of interns and one of them, Joseph Braybook, spent his time with our Innovation Labs team. An avid fan of the Minecraft video game, he suggested building a Minecraft world using OS OpenData products. In just two weeks Joe created a Minecraft world representing over 224,000 square kilometers of Great Britain  and now Ordnance Survey have made it available so you can download and explore!

Minecraft is a game set in virtual 3D worlds made up of cubes of different materials. Players build shelters, make things from raw materials and fend off a variety of monsters. Minecraft worlds are often computer generated, though dedicated players have also created meticulous recreations of real and imagined environments such as Hogwarts castle.

Image of Snowdonia in Minecraft

Snowdonia in Minecraft

To build the world two of Ordnance Survey’s digital map products that are freely available as OS OpenData for anyone to use, have been used to build:

  • OS Terrain 50: A three-dimensional model of the bare earth surface known as a Digital Terrain Model (DTM). The product is delivered as a grid with a resolution of 50 metres. We used this product to generate the Minecraft GB terrain.
  • OS VectorMap District: A mid-scale contextual or backdrop map product. We used the raster version, extracting surface features – for example water, woodland and roads – based on pixel colours and densities. We used this information to modify the material of individual blocks.

Continue reading 'Creating a Minecraft map of Britain'»

Infographic – How can we make GeoVation even better?

By , 22 August, 2013 8:00 am
In July we asked for your feedback on GeoVation and on our latest GeoVation Challenge which was focussed on environmental performance in business.
Environment GeoVation Challenge survey image
We asked how easy you find innovating with GeoVation,  how you found out about us, what you thought of the blog and how well you understood the process. We  also asked for your feedback on the various elements of GeoVation Camp.
To those of you that responded, thank you for taking the time to give  feedback to us, it really helps us to make GeoVation even better.  Congratulations also to Sian Goss, one of helpers at GeoVation Camp from University of Southampton Geography Department who won a £10 Amazon voucher in the GeoVation survey prize draw.  We’ve  summarised your feedback and put this in a great infographic – find out more…

Innovation from problem to pitch

By , 20 August, 2013 8:00 am

Ever wondered  what happens before we launch a GeoVation Challenge?  Who decides how we focus the challenge? What really happens at GeoVation Camp and how are the winners decided?

We’ve uploaded a presentation which details the journey of the GeoVation Environment Challenge -  from discovering the problems to idea generation and pitching and selection of winners at GeoVation Camp;  ‘ Innovation from problem to pitch’  which you can see  below.

To start off we ran a  Problem PowWow in Bristol with people who have perspectives on the barriers that hinder businesses from improving their environmental ‘unpack’ the problems associated with the challenge.

Continue reading 'Innovation from problem to pitch'»