Since 1996, the Merseyside Innovation Awards have recognised - and rewarded - companies in the region, helping them build their innovations into strong and sustainable businesses. This year, the top three companies had all received support from RTC North’s Enterprise Europe Network team through Innovate2Succeed (I2S), a three year pilot programme in collaboration with the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.
The winner, DriverNet, was founded in 2016 by Anthony Chisnall after a 17-year career working in logistics for small fleet operators and large multinational hauliers. (He is pictured below with the awards judges, receiving his prize.) The company’s mobile workforce management platform connects mobile operatives, on site management and clients together via mobile apps, web portals and SMS messaging. It removes the need for paper-based systems and manual operations - and with it many of the costs, stress and inefficiencies associated with managing drivers and fleets.
Having received a feasibility study grant from Innovate UK in 2017, DriverNet participated on the I2S programme. Our assistance was geared towards making the company’s proposition attractive to potential investors, working with the team on business modelling, preparing a pitch deck and their investor presentation. Subsequently, DriverNet has been successful in attracting substantial equity investment from numerous high net worth individuals. The company also participated in the Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP) to Singapore in 2018.
DriverNet provides a good example of digital innovation making a positive societal impact. Its app has been trialed with St Helens Council’s adult social care transport team’s fleet of mini buses that transport elderly and disabled residents and college pupils with additional needs - providing alerts, tracking and drop calls to speed up collections and drop offs, improving safety, service and convenience levels for passengers, families and guardians. The company is also in talks with Merseylink to help digitalise their mobile workforce operating systems.
The two runner-up finalists used I2S for very different purposes.
Pin IoT has developed cost-effective tracking devices that use low-power cellular networks to effectively monitor assets such as containers, plant, tools, bins and skips - physical assets that are typically under a poor degree of control when being used within an industry supply chain. Through the I2S programme it was able to make an Innovation Loan application. Although unsuccessful at the time, the process has provided the company with important and valuable skills for the future.
Orcha used I2S to focus on innovation management and overall strategy, with a particular focus on exploitation of its product - a platform that provides medical certification of health apps. As a result of the support through the programme, Orcha Health have developed a new product and is expanding internationally.