Sam John Pearce and Emma Louise Fielding of CompareMyTravel

Member Article

Students launch business following Open Innovation competition

Two students have turned a competition entry into a business after winning a £2,000 prize to design and build a new mobile application.

21-year-olds Emma Louise Fielding and Sam John Pearce, students at Northumbria and Newcastle University, beat two other finalists to clinch the top prize in the Data Movement open innovation competition.

Their winning submission, CompareMyTravel, is a transport comparison website and app that compares coaches, car time, flights and trains to any destination in the UK.

The app helps users reduce the amount of time spent searching for transport by comparing travel providers that operate in the UK and shortlisting journeys by fastest and cheapest option.

After their idea was voted for by the public in January, Emma and Sam were granted £5,000 to develop the submission into a fully working app, commissioning Newcastle-based digital agency iResources to build the application.

Alongside two other finalists, Parking Fairy developed by Dylan McKee and Student Saver developed by Niall Quinn, the apps entered a download race in April, with CompareMyTravel downloaded by 1009 users over a two-week period.

The three finalists were voted for by the public from a total of 49 applications submitted by budding technology entrepreneurs.

Emma and Sam now plan to use the £2,000 prize money to further develop the app and build a comparison website.

Emma said: “I got the idea for CompareMyTravel after missing a train from Kings Cross Station, so when I saw the Data Movement competition to design an app using transport data I thought I’d enter.

“I was delighted to be voted through by the public to get the app developed and working with iResources to build the app and plan a launch strategy has been great experience.

“Knowing the other finalist’s apps were also great ideas we pulled out all the stops during the two-week download race, getting publicity in the local press and even getting support from some of the Geordie Shore cast and professional world ranked Squash players.

“It feels amazing to win the competition. We are very excited to develop CompareMyTravel further and see the Data Movement competition as just the beginning.”

The Data Movement competition was run by the Digital Catapult Centre North East & Tees Valley on behalf of the North East Combined Authority (NECA).

The competition was designed to help anyone with a passion for technology to design apps for the general public using travel, transport, signal, air quality and weather data published by the NECA.

Ray King, Urban Traffic Management Control (UTMC) Manager at Newcastle City Council said: “In an increasingly connected age we are collecting more and more information about people, movement and our environment, but it serves little purpose if the information is not applied.

“We are committed to opening up and sharing the intelligence and data collected from across the region through the NECA Open Data Service so that it can be used for the wider benefit of the public.

“The Data Movement competition has been a fantastic opportunity for the general public to access and use this information to create a services and solutions that benefit the wider community and in the process has supported the creation of new businesses.”

Data Movement is one of a number of projects being run by the Digital Catapult Centre North East & Tees Valley to help organisations to unlock new value in closed and open data whilst creating new opportunities for the North East’s technology SMEs.

Naomi Morrow, Digital Catapult Centre NETV Project Manager said: “Data Movement has been an excellent example of where open innovation has been fostered to deliver benefits to multiple sections of the community.

“The NECA has seen their data used in new and innovative ways, the public has a new application to help them make smarter travel decisions and Emma and Sam have been given the opportunity to develop a business out of a completion.

“By opening up this platform to the public we’ve given anybody with a bright idea the opportunity to engage with data and develop genuinely innovative solutions.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Amy Watson .

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