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Connect the Community: Design Challenge

Winners Announced

We are delighted to announce the 10 winning entries of Phase 1 in the Connect the Community: Design Challenge

  • Buddy - Hannah, UK
  • Street Sentry - Mahendra, UK
  • Community Check-In - Penny, UK
  • IsoCare - Md. Khairul, Bangladesh
  • VitaPatch - Henry, Canada
  • AI Retromate - Sridhar (on behalf of a child), UK
  • Smart Popper - Isabella and team, UK
  • Pill-ing Better - Maria Sofia and team, UK
  • Canvas - Richard, UK
  • Connected Cups - Penny, UK

Thank you to everyone that entered, we were amazed by the quality of all of the entries. Look out for updates from the winners and other entrants over the coming weeks!

Calling all creators - do you have an idea to help people in isolation?

Cadent, Nordic Semiconductor and RS Components are inviting you to think big and transform the lives of people living in isolation using IoT technologies.

During this difficult and challenging time, isolation can affect many of us in ways we might not have previously anticipated. We typically think of people who are elderly or ill as being the most affected by isolation, however the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how anyone can become isolated by circumstances.

We’re on the hunt for innovative solutions that can help people stay safe as they remain in their home. Whether someone is self-isolating with symptoms, categorised as ‘vulnerable’, or simply struggling with their all-round physical or mental health, we want to find the ideas that can support them to live independently.


The Challenge 

Using wireless technology (Bluetooth Low-Energy/Thread/Cellular IoT - LTE-M/NB-IoT), present a solution to address one or more of the issues experienced by those in isolation.

What specific issues are we interested in?

We really want to see you bring your own creativity to life - however, to get you thinking, here are some of the themes we’re particularly interested in:

  • New ways to detect gas, carbon monoxide or water leaks
  • Allowing people to stay occupied and have fun
  • Remote monitoring of movement, activity, falls or raised levels of anxiety
  • Ways to keep physically/mentally active
  • Reminders for/reassurance about regular routines - e.g. taking medicine, banking
  • Voice messaging
  • Medical tracking - thermometers, oxygen saturation detection
  • Social interaction with neighbours/friends/family
  • Ways to ask for help while self-isolating (milk/bread/medicine delivery)
  • Ways to raise requests for support from essential service companies such as water, electricity, gas, broadband.

We want your solution/s to be easy to use, and accessible to people in a range of vulnerable circumstances.

How to get involved

If you have an idea you’d like to share, please provide us with a summary of the concept and how you think it could benefit people in isolation.

This should be:

  • A written submission (up to 1,500 words) including any concept sketches and/or photos to help illustrate your idea.
  • Optionally, you may like to create a short video to support your submission.

Further guidance on what to include in your entry and the judging criteria is included in the Entry Guidelines.

Who should enter?

Anyone with a great idea can enter! We’re looking for ideas from engineers, students, SMEs and any creative thinkers looking for something to do at home! This competition is open to everyone.

What’s on offer?

This is an opportunity to showcase your talent to three large organisations, who can nurture your innovation and expose your creativity to a wide audience.

We’re providing up to 10 prizes in Phase 1 for those ideas that impress us the most - so there are many chances to win.

If you make it to Phase 2 of the competition, we can support you to progress your idea to development. If this is successful, you could secure the funding to make your concept a real-life product. This is where the exciting journey begins!


If you have the technical skills, time, and expertise, we can provide you with the hardware you need to bring your idea to life. Using IoT technologies from Nordic Semiconductor - Bluetooth Low Energy, LTE-M and NB-IoT and prototyping components from RS Components. See What support is available?

How does the competition work?

- Phase 1 - Submit your product concept

Whether you have technical skills or not, we want to hear your best ideas. If we like your idea we can help you bring it to life! You’ll also have the opportunity for your idea to feature on RS Components’ DesignSpark platform to showcase it to the world (if you are happy to share).

The Prize - We’re providing up to 10 prizes for those ideas that impress us the most in Phase 1 - so even if your proposal doesn’t progress to Concept Development and creation, you’ll still be in with a chance to win.

Hardware donation - If you have the time, skills and technical expertise, you can request the hardware you need to begin bringing your idea to life. This will not increase your chances of winning, your technical skills are not being assessed and you have an equal chance of winning the prize and progressing to Phase 2.

- Phase 2 - Concept Development

After reviewing your application, if we see the potential for a ground-breaking new product, we can connect you with the people - and the funding - to help make it a reality.

You’ll retain the intellectual property (IP) for your concept, but we’ll open the doors to experts in design who can guide you through full prototyping and development, and leaders in the charity sector who can ensure the end product meets customer needs. There are various funding mechanisms available to help take you all the way from idea to implementation.

With our support, your idea could be the next big thing that transforms lives for people living in isolation. You’ll have the chance to gain further exposure to companies on the lookout for innovators like you - and if you impress people enough, you could even be in with the chance to win an industry award!

More details on this phase will be released to the winners of Phase 1.

What support is available?

If you need help to prepare your idea/s, you can gain free access to design tools from RS DesignSpark, including electronic and mechanical CAD. You’ll also have access to RS Components’ technical engineering community, DesignSpark, and Nordic Semiconductor’s tech support portal and community for wireless developers, the Nordic DevZone

I have the technical skills to build my idea - how can you help?

If you have the technical skills to prototype your idea, please let us know! Whilst your prototype will not be used in the assessment of the winners for Phase 1, we want to support you in developing your idea. Nordic Semiconductor can provide the following IoT prototyping hardware on request:

Nordic Short Range Wireless (Bluetooth Low Energy) Development Kits:

Nordic Semiconductor Low Power Cellular IoT Development Kit:

In addition, RS Components are providing on request:

  • Up to £200 credit per entrant to allow prototyping of your idea

You may place your Hardware Request when submitting your competition entry. Limited quantities of hardware are available, hardware requests will be managed on a first-come, first-served basis against each organisations hardware donation criteria.

Judging Criteria - Phase 1

Once you’ve submitted your idea/s, our expert panel will review it and if we think it has potential. They will assess and score your entry against the following criteria:

  • Meets a known user need
  • Usability
  • Feasibility
  • Value for money
  • Impact

More information on the judging process is available in the Entry Guidelines.

Key Dates:

  • Competition open for submissions - 09:00 GMT 15th May 2020
  • Competition closed for submissions - 09:00 GMT 3rd July 2020
  • Phase 1 winners announced - 17th July 2020
  • Phase 2 - details to follow for successful entrants

Virtual Hackathon

Check out the recording of the Virtual 'Hackathon' we held with Nordic Semiconductor to introduce the challenge and the key technologies we would like you to use in your submissions!


Q: Can we enter as a team?

A: Of course, all we ask is that you nominate one person to take responsibility for the team’s entry and be the point-of-contact. Please ensure you have permission from the other team members to use their ideas and contributions in the submission.

Q: How much detail do we need to include in the entry?

A: We don’t need a detailed design, what we need is the essence of your idea and evidence that you have fully through the needs of your user and how your product meets those needs, in a feasible and cost-effective manner!. Full details on the judging criteria are included in the Entry Guidelines on the challenge webpage.

Q: How technical does my entry need to be as I am not an expert in IoT and wireless technologies?

A: You don’t need to be an expert to enter, although it will help to do a little research on Cellular IoT technologies (LTE-M and NB-IoT) and Bluetooth Low Energy before you submit your entry. You may like to refer to two recent webinars from Nordic Semiconductor on these technologies, Bluetooth Low Energy and Cellular IoT, or a recording of the ‘Virtual Hackathon’ (at the top of this page) where we provided an introduction to these technologies.

Q: I would like to learn more about Cellular IoT and Bluetooth Low Energy, where can I look?

A: A fantastic resource is the Nordic Semiconductor YouTube channel where there are many videos showing different applications of these wireless technologies. You might also want to check out the recording of the competition ‘Virtual Hackathon’ where we provided an introduction to these technologies.

Q: Where in the world are Cellular IoT technologies supported?

A: Great question! The two Cellular IoT technologies supported by Nordic devices (LTE-M and NB-IoT) have differing levels of coverage around the world. The GSMA provides a really useful deployment map which you can use to look at the coverage in your country.

Q: When will the 10 winners be announced?

A: The 10 winners of the competition will be announced two weeks after the closing date of the competition, on 17th July!

More questions?

If you have any questions regarding the competition, the entry process, judging, or hardware requests please email: and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

About your challenge hosts


We own, operate and maintain the largest gas distribution network in the UK, providing our customers with the energy they need to stay safe, warm and connected.

We put our customers at the heart of everything we do. We are committed to doing the right thing and we work hard to ensure our customers and their loved ones’ safety by offering a number of free services to keep you safe, warm and independent in your own home.

Nordic Semiconductor:

Specializing in wireless technology that powers the IoT. The company’s award-winning Bluetooth LE solutions have made it the market leader, and are complemented by ANT+, Thread, and Zigbee products. With the introduction of LTE-M and NB-IoT, Nordic brings low power, massive IoT into the cellular world.

RS Components:

RS Components provides engineers around the world with the components and tools they need to turn their ideas into a reality. Our design engineering platform DesignSpark provides engineers and students with free design tools and resources to support them during the design process and connects a community of 850,000+ members.

We are committed to supporting the communities we operate in - innovation is at the heart of what we do, and we want to help you make a positive difference to this planet and its people.

Additional support for Under 25's from The Youth Group

We’re delighted to offer special support to innovators under the age of 25 through The Youth Group’s Mentor Me programme which matches young people to business mentors for virtual guidance and advice on entrepreneurship. The Youth Group are an organisation that act as a conduit between young people, education, and companies to deliver Youth-First solutions, products, and services, designed to enable young people to explore every opportunity and enrich their lives.

Email to access this opportunity from The Youth Group.


RS Grass Roots is the Education & Community Impact team at RS. Grass Roots champions young engineers with exciting opportunities to nurture the next generation of outstanding innovators! Industry now demands graduate engineers with not only the knowledge but crucially the skills and practical experience to solve real problems and create new designs. Whether you are an academic working to enhance the educational experience or a student tackling your latest project - RS is here to help.
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