More than £24k invested in design students as they develop concepts for cities of the future

Last week, design students at Loughborough University were awarded more than £24,500 in funding towards their ideas which have the potential to offer solutions to communities of the future.

4 designs for Herd smart phone screens

Led by the Ford Motor Company Fund and the University’s School of Design and Creative Arts, a brief was set to students in November that asked them to propose an idea that provides a ‘sustainable urban solution for future cities’.

Inspirational ideas from various student groups were presented to the judging panel as part of the competition. These included wearable devices which help the elderly to call for transport that meets their safety requirements, a service that helps immigrant families adapt to a new community and make new friends, and using augmented reality to enhance the experience of outdoor city runners.

Three winners were each awarded £5,000 to develop their ideas further, with an additional £7,500 in funding for the overall winner.

‘Herd’ was crowned the champion of the Smart Mobility Challenge, receiving £12,500 in total.

Herd is a community-focused platform designed to support those experiencing a crisis in their area – such as a flood - significantly affecting their home, their loved ones or their own health.

The app would alert an individual with a warning based on government data and personal risk factors and then generate a feed of actions of what should and shouldn’t be done to remain safe.

It would also help those who are unable to complete an action, for example, due to a lack of mobility, to send out a ‘flare’ in which other users can offer their help to them.

The other two recipients of the £5,000 prize were as follows:

  • Ubag – A sustainable user-to-user service that delivers and stores travellers’ bags safely so they can have a hands-free journey, enhancing their mobility and use of public transport.
  • Trove – A digital platform that makes a community’s worth of books available at your fingertips for free by using exchange mechanisms across a variety of public places such as cafes, train stations and supermarkets.

In addition, a special highly commended award of £2,000 was awarded to wefill, a food delivery service for students that uses a reusable packaging scheme to protect the world’s oceans.

Debbie Chennells, Ford Fund Manager for Ford of Europe commented: “This year, we were really excited to see the concepts that students had come up with using their knowledge and creativity.

“It was clear from the presentations that a lot of hard work had been put into these ideas, and that many of the students possess an entrepreneurial spirit.

“I look forward to seeing what the future holds for our winning entries, and I think all of the students who took part should be extremely proud of themselves for designing such fantastic ideas during these challenging times.”

This year’s Smart Mobility Challenge also received support from the University’s Enterprise Network and Leicestershire County Council.