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Innovation takes centre stage

Innovation takes centre stage

Ecobuild's Big Innovation Pitch in association with M&S

When it comes to innovation, ideas are not enough. Strange as it may sound, for an innovator to have that ‘eureka moment’ of discovery and invention does not in itself guarantee their product or service will prove a gamechanger.

Often, companies and individuals with great ideas struggle to gain access into big and complex commercial markets, such as retail. Without opportunity to develop and deliver on their promise, ideas remain just ideas. Innovation needs a platform.

At M&S we understand this challenge. Furthermore, with our Plan A strategy we are in the market for innovation, every day of the week.

This is why over the last two years our property team at M&S have partnered with the UK’s largest sustainable construction show, Ecobuild, to host a dynamic win-win showcase: The Big Innovation Pitch. Open to any company operating in the UK sustainable built environment market, the Big Innovation Pitch consists of three heats, before the grand final where 5 finalists pitched to a panel of judges in front of a live audience, in the Ecobuild Arena.

The hugely successful debut of the competition at Ecobuild last year saw the winning firm Endo Enterprises triumphant in pitching the benefits of EndoTherm™, an energy-saving central-heating additive it has invented, developed and manufactured. M&S were so impressed by the product’s use of a simple organic solution proven to save 15 per cent on heating bills that we are now trialling it across 25 stores, as part of a range of measures designed to drive down gas consumption.

For all entrants, in addition to the possibility of ultimately winning contracts, participating in the Big Innovation Pitch also offers an unrivalled opportunity to receive feedback on their product and how they present it, gain valuable exposure and raise profile.

Competition in 2016 proved even fiercer, in terms of both the number and quality of applications. Brimming with ingenuity and inspiration, entrants ranged from established brands and industry names, through inventors presenting their lifelong ambitions, to start-ups working out of a garage.

The 2016 finalists were: Air2eau, which ‘creates water out of thin air’; Actimass Ltd, providers of thermal mass solutions; bespoke facilities management company Skanska Facilities Services; specialist heating efficiency expert Tadpole Energy Ltd; and Waterblade, creators of a water-saving fitting.

The winner, decided in the Ecobuild Arena on 10 March in the live final, was Waterblade – a cleverly designed tool which can be added to a bathroom tap, to spread a trickle of water into a thin blade through which hands can be moved. The simplicity and low cost of the water saving invention impressed all of the judges, with its easy applicability to retail meaning we are looking forward testing it in the M&S estate.


The Big Innovation Pitch offers a springboard platform for those people with ideas: it’s unique, it’s real and it’s potentially gamechanging. It’s everything innovation should be.

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Winner:
* Waterblade, http://http://www.waterblade.co/


Finalists:
* Actimass Ltd, www.actimass.co.uk
* Air2eau, www.air2eau.co.uk
* Skanska Facilities Services, http://www.skanska.co.uk/
* Tadpole Energy Ltd, www.tadpoleenergy.com


Shortlisted:
* Bauder Ltd, www.bauder.co.uk
* Cybula Ltd, www.cybula.com
* Dyson Ltd, www.dyson.co.uk
* Inspirit Energy Ltd, www.inspirit-energy.com
* Low Impact Ltd, www.low-impact.co
* MAGSCAPES Ltd, www.magscapes.com
* Smart Cara (Europe) Ltd, www.smartcaraeurope.com
* Smart Power & Energy Ltd, www.smart-power.co.uk
* Vexo International (UK) Ltd, www.vexoint.com
* Waste Plan Solutions Ltd, www.wasteplansolutions.co.uk

Big Innovation Pitch Final Live at Ecobuild
Host: Sophie Raworth, Journalist & Broadcaster, BBC
Panel of Industry Experts:
* Imogen Cust, Engineering Research and Development Manager - M&S
* Guy Hammersley, Executive Director – BRE
* Ian Entwistle, CEO - GWS EMEA – CBRE
* John Alker, Campaign and Policy Director – UKGBC
* Rick Holland, Lead Technologist in the Low Impact Building Innovation Platform - Innovate UK
* Rachel Riley, TV personality

Ecobuild’s Great Innovation Pavilion
http://www.ecobuild.co.uk/ecobuilds-great-british-innovators-pavilion


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About the author

Lydia Hopton
Lydia Hopton

Property Plan A Project Manager

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