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Find out more about our SME Showcase at Solace Summit 2019

In our latest event blog, SME Development Manager  Cera Wong discusses the successes of the Catapult’s trip to the Solace summit 2019 in October. Our presence at the event included hosting eight exhibit spaces for SMEs to showcase their products in front of 300 chief executives of local authorities around the UK.  Cera also explores future opportunities that lie ahead for the Catapult to continue fostering future engagements between SMEs and local authorities.

For the second consecutive year as a sponsor, the Connected Places Catapult hosted a stand at the Solace Summit and this time we featured our Igloo immersive experience room to create some impactful 3D experiences inside the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.

As part of the summit, we invited scale-up SMEs from the Planning and Mobility sectors that have technologies and products which have high growth potential to be deployed in large scale cities and places. The aim was to help SMEs generate sales leads, increase buy-in, endorsements, and investments from local authorities and local government for their technologies. In return we helped local authorities and local government to explore innovative urban services that can drive economic growth and improve social and environmental impact in their region.

Watch Solace Video Highlights

SMEs were also given time to use the Igloo to present their businesses to help local authorities speak with SMEs on a one-to-one basis about their technology.

“Presenting in the Igloo today has been a unique and interesting experience; this allows stakeholders to really engage with the scenarios they create and understand how the community can be affected by transport changes.” Devon Barrett, Podaris.

You can find out more about the showcase in this video.


Meet our Solace SME Exhibitors

Hello Lamp Post

Hello Lamp Post developed an interactive digital platform that invites people to strike up interesting, surprising and often funny conversations with familiar street objects (e.g. lamp posts, bins, post boxes, etc) using text messages or Facebook Messenger, encouraging people to look at the city with fresh eyes and see it as a playground.  Having won the inaugural 2013 Playable City Award, the business develops products that can engage residents, tourists and communities, thereby promoting social liveability in cities.


VU.CITY has developed an accessible and interactive 3D platform in the world that helps planner in the built environment make faster, more informed decisions.  Through a combination of data, vast modelling and intelligent analysis, VU.CITY platform shows the real-life impact of new buildings and infrastructure on their surrounding environment and is accurate to within 15cm, enabling new schemes to be securely tested and developed.  At the Solace Summit, VU.City used the Igloo to showcase a demonstration where they have covered the whole of London and the centres of other major cities, including consented but as-yet unbuilt schemes, enabling planning decisions to be made taking into account the future for London.


Tiascope produces automated transport modelling for developers, local authorities and transport planners to take the guesswork out of transport planning, providing a robust and transparent basis for discussion and agreement of site impacts that could save costs and time in research.  It produces models for residential site location in seconds from a simple web interface, so that one can quickly understand: where development traffic is going to go, what is the area of impact, and which junctions should be assessed in detail.  At the summit, Tiascope showcased its modelling interface that can map out: local authority and trunk road locations, accident data, cycle routes, committed developments (council dependent), rail stations and patronage, and a variety of background mapping.


Podaris has developed real-time collaborative transport planning platform for planners, engineers, policymakers, and public stakeholders.  It lets users create proposal development and feasibility studies, create multi-modal transport networks to share with collaborators and analyse their costs and benefits, and access to analytical tools to give insights on travel-time and spatial connectivity.     At the summit, Solace showcased their parametric design tools that can ensure that right-of-way, travel-time, and capacity calculations are extremely accurate from day one, based on validated engineering properties from transport technology vendors.


CoPlug provides a suite of cloud-based digital tools to support end to end processes of social infrastructure planning.  Their aim is to bring together creative thinking and digital advancements in the built environment sector to create innovative ‘place-based’ digital concepts. With an interdisciplinary team of urban planners, health experts, urban designers, software engineers and data scientists, they take their services to multiple stakeholders to co-design and deliver digital products that can add value to local governments and communities. They have deployed their technology internationally; including developing a Geo-spatial AI enabled digital framework for planning of cities in North Africa and carrying out a DFID funded programme focusing on Smart Cities and capacity building within local governments in India.  At the summit, they spoke about their services in predictive analytics, spatial data analytics, dynamic spatial mapping.

Emu Analytics

Emu Analytics is a data science and software company that captures, analyses, and visualises big location data in real-time.  Their sector focuses include, and not limited to: mobility, smart city & government, retail & leisure, real estate, health & insurance, and utilities & logistics.   They have published a number of interactive maps that can track data that are important for policy makers to visualise and gain insights from, such as noise pollution areas, low income and poverty areas, age demographics, tube stations, people movements, and other location data.  One of their existing customers is Barking and Dagenham council. At the summit, Emu Analytics used the Igloo to showcase one of their interactive maps.


QRoutes is a cloud-based tool that interfaces with existing databases to allow new customers to easily plug-in and get going quickly. Their main goal is to serve more home-to-school passengers, and to reduce home-to-school transport costs for UK local authorities.  Its speed and flexibility enable planners to work in new ways; for example, this year Wiltshire County Council used QRoutes to help inform the best place for new schools as part of a £20m investment.  Since 2016, they have taken on 30 local authority customers, and on average have saved their customers between 10-20% in cost by reducing the number of contracts required to deliver both mainstream and statutory Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) home to school transport.

Plan X

Plan X is a digital planning guide that makes planning simpler, for everyone.  Historically, planning information is published as multiple documents and websites – which have to be manually and assessed every time.  This leads to a huge amount of repetitive work, confusion and mistakes, both for applicants and planners.  Plan X allows visitors to a councils website to self-triage and check their proposals against planning legislation and guidance.  The result is a digital planning service that is simpler and more transparent for applicants and could free-up thousands of hours of planning officer’s time.  Plan X is being developed by Open Systems Lab, a non-profit R&D lab based in London.

What’s Next?

We had over 300 attendees on the day, including the Mayor of Solihull as a special guest.  With several leads and conversations that SMEs have had with local authorities, we look forward to potential future collaborations between SMEs and local authorities.

There are still existing challenges in answering the key question of, how technologies can be successfully deployed into regions.  As a Catapult, we want to explore topics such as: how do we create clusters for growth?  What does innovation mean for local authorities, and how do we help them?  How do we create pilot programmes of our own to help this process?

The Catapult is now involved in the Innovate UK’s Future Cities Domestic Missions programme, which is a pilot that aims to catalyse and grow a market for Advanced Urban Services built around city collaborations, creative, strategic procurement and increased understanding between public authorities and innovative businesses.   As part of the working group, we will be looking forward to helping kick-start pilot programmes in regions all around the UK.

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