Leading the new normal

We’ve all been contemplating the struggle to adapt to the new world order under COVID-19. I don’t think it’s possible to underestimate the threat it poses to our health and wellbeing, nor the impact on the global economy that we will feel long after lockdown comes to an end. However, following our first Virtual Connections Café support and networking event, I was struck at the ingenuity shown by the innovation-led SMEs in our sector to adapt in spite of this.

We are all aware of the acute need for medical equipment and the incredible efforts of our front line workers to deal with the urgent rise in medical cases, and I would like to take a moment to look at some of the other attempts being made by our innovation-led SME network to support them.

Openspace and Figuringoutdata have collaborated to develop a new application for OpenSpace to help monitor social distancing at St. Pancras station in real-time, helping the station operators to track and understand real-time behaviours of people travelling in and out of London.

Zeelo, working with Addison Lee, have partnered with the likes of Amazon, Ocado Group, Sainsbury’s, Argos and Avara Foods, with more to come including hospitals, food distributors and critical financial services.

Vivacity Labs, another innovation-led SME, is installing and maintaining its sensors for clients, with many using them for essential monitoring and the improvement of the transport network during these unusual times. In particular, they are also supporting the UK transport network with vital data on social distancing.

DriverNet has been working with councils, charities, volunteer groups and start-ups helping coordinate over 1,000 deliveries of emergency food, medicines, packed lunches and sanitary goods to the elderly, vulnerable children, rough sleepers and those being shielded.

Tomorrow’s Journey has an asset sharing tool that is being used to assist activity of the other businesses who are supporting mobility of critical workers, such as Zeelo, Karshare and vehicle dealerships.

Humanising Autonomy has been working on a new release of their human behaviour analytics software in response to COVID-19 – to help measure the impact of social distancing on transportation and public spaces. The release has now launched and the cloud-based analytics platform can start analysing large amounts of data from CCTV or video cameras. The software generates insights of how social distancing has affected people’s behaviour over time, how long it took for changes to take hold in society and help municipalities and business owners decide on possible next steps for future policies.

Locomizer have created a data set to support clients from different industries with the understanding of the distribution of the general public within cities/city centres/suburbs in the UK up until the 21st March. They followed several audience groups (city centre workers, suburban residents, etc), which may be of interest to industry and policy makers.

We’d love to hear from other innovation-led SMEs supporting the smooth function of our critical mobility and infrastructure at this time, or need their services, please contact us at

It is also heartening to see the amount of support that has been made available to keep the economy and innovation-led SMEs functioning such as the Innovate UK competition that has just been launched; the British Business Bank loan scheme; and the support being provided by the Federation for Small Businesses. If you are looking for advice on the support that is available, then please take a look at our COVID-19 SME Support Hub, which we will do our best to keep updated as new things come through.

Our next Virtual Connection Café takes place 13th May, I look forward to seeing you online.