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Connect the Community: Design Challenge - Making a Difference


In July we announced the ten winners of the Connect the Community: Design Challenge. Since then the winners have been busy refining their ideas and perfecting their pitches to secure support from the experts at Cadent and their charitable partners.

What was the challenge all about?

We teamed up with two fantastic partners, Cadent - who own and operate the UK's largest gas distribution network, and technology specialists Nordic Semiconductor. Together, we called on young engineers and creative thinkers asking them to think about how isolation and loneliness had impacted those in their community and to conceptualise new, innovative ideas to solve these challenges using internet of things (IoT) technologies.

Where have the winners got to?

Since being crowned winners of the competition, the successful entrants have been fine-tuning their ideas and pitches. Together with Nordic Semiconductor, we have provided them with prototyping components to help them start taking their ideas from concept to reality. The winners have also had access to exclusive opportunities to help them refine their proposition including legal advice to help protect their innovations, and tips in presenting investment-winning pitches online, supported by the EIC.

Who were the winners?

The Connect the Community: Design Challenge winners were selected from over 50 entries - the top ten ideas represent the most exciting and potentially transformational opportunities to support communities.

We asked our winners to describe how their innovations were "Connecting the Community" in just a few words - hear what some of them had to say in our latest video celebrating their progress.

Why did the entrants take part?

We were humbled by the entrants’ desire to use their skills and great ideas to change people’s lives for the better. Maria Sofia and Natalia, who came up with the Pill-ing Better concept, said: "This was a great opportunity to let our creativity develop something for the common good, while using our acquired engineering skills and, now, making it something real".

Other entrants were able to use the competition as a platform to pursue ideas they had been considering for some time. Mahendra had identified a common desire amongst his neighbours to support one another - as he put it, "I saw that residents are vested in wanting to be part of a local community." This was the inspiration for his idea, Street Sentry.

What's next?

We invited the winners to pitch their ideas live to a panel comprised of Cadent, Nordic Semiconductor and relevant charities in the UK. We are connecting the winners with the organisations who are best placed to support them in understanding their target markets and developing their concepts.

We caught up with Claire Steed from Nordic Semiconductor who was present for all of the innovator's pitches to Cadent and their partners. Claire sees a lot of IoT product ideas through her work with Nordic's customers (Nordic Semiconductor are a world leader in wireless IoT technologies). Claire commented “I was most impressed by those who were not from an electronics background, but who had quickly learnt the capabilities and constraints of IoT product development. Their unique perspectives resulted in some unexpected and impressive ideas. This shows just how important it is to have many types of mind working on a problem. All of the teams showed great progression throughout the challenge, refining their product concepts ahead of the final pitch”.

Clare Steed Profile Picture


Claire Steed - Regional Sales Manager, UK - Nordic Semiconductor

We spoke to Jo Giles, Customer Safeguarding Manager at Cadent about how the innovations featured in the competition could impact some of their customers. "Working with the fantastic, entrepreneuring winners of the challenge has allowed us to explore innovation possibilities we would never have thought of before. By expanding the innovation pool and inviting new voices to the party, we’re exploring uncharted territory in support of our commitment to keep people safe, warm and independent in their home."

Jo Giles Profile Picture


Jo Giles - Customer Safeguarding Manager - Cadent

RS Grass Roots is the Education & Community Impact team at RS Components. 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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