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25 Jun 2019

Winners of the Ford Fund Smart Mobility Challenge Revealed

The winning student team of the Ford Fund Smart Mobility Challenge was recently revealed at an awards ceremony at Loughborough Design School

The competition was first launched by Loughborough academics and Ford Fund representatives in November 2018. The theme of the competiton brief set for the students was Sustainable Urban Solutions for Future Cities. The aim of this brief was to help improve people’s lives by developing useful initiatives that overcome obstacles to daily mobility, help people and goods move easily, safely and securely, encourage active mobility, connect communities together, and provide more efficient energy opportunities, plus many more.

Overall, ten student teams took part and suggested initiatives that would provide mobility solutions to society. 

The winning team created "Pronto" - a smart service that helps to increase the mobility of the elderly population by providing an intelligent 'care from a distance' platform. The team comprised a mixture of undergraduate and PhD students - Rhys Comissiong, Robin Hamer, Rachel Chung, Will Jephcote, Peter Waters and Nick Johnson, receiving £12,500 cash prize to implement their idea further.

The platform supports family carers by providing access to a network of volunteer carers that can assist their loved ones, at times when they are unable to do. The family carer can set a task for the volunteer carer, who in return gains 'skills' and qualifications.

The team commented: "Our aim is to motivate students to get involved with the community. We hope this brings together different people across generations and helps tackle problems such as social isolation and reduced access to mobility services.

"With the ongoing support from Loughborough University and additional funding from Ford Fund, we are presented with a great opportunity to further develop the idea which we hope will one day be used by communities across the UK."

Two other teams were awarded £5,000 each to support the development of their products and services too – Uovo with 'The Caterpillar Club Walking Bus' and YOO with Shared Shopping System Design.

The Caterpillar Club is a service that enables parents that do not live within walking distance of their children's school to park and drop their kids at designated spots, where they will be collected by volunteers and walked to school, and 'YOO' is a 'shared shopping system' that enables elderly shoppers to conveniently transport their shopping around town with a functional, adaptable card operated, shopping trolley which shows convenient information such as store discount offers.

Maisie from Ford Mobility Solutions said: "When we first received the applications, we were blown away with the quality of work that had been done, from the research to the actual products that had been designed. It's been really great to see what the students have developed."

"The 2019 Ford Fund Smart Mobility Challenge has provided undergraduate, postgraduate and research students from Loughborough Design School with an exciting and challenging real-world design brief," said Dr Val Mitchell and Dr Stuart Cockbill from the Design School.

"Hosting the Smart Mobility challenge on behalf of the Ford Fund has given our students the chance to tackle real-world issues by getting 'into the wild' to collaboratively design with our local community. Experiences like this greatly enhance the employability of our students by demonstrating their ability to research, ideate and deliver innovative solutions to real-world problems."