A short while ago, I was in the Picasso museum in Barcelona, which, while it was a delightful experience, was ever-so-slightly marred by the fact that we had not ordered enough tour headsets for our group. To rectify this, we would have to go back down to the reception, wait in line for an indefinite amount of time, possibly to be told that there weren’t any left. So, we decided to continue along without them, using art and history sites, mainly to find out about the individual pieces in the Las Meñiñas collection and more about Picasso’s time in Barcelona. It was fascinating and we learnt so much, but I did wonder why in this day and age, I couldn’t just download an app on my phone to help me out a bit, without me having to collate all the information myself on the go.
A week later, I met Peter and Mike. They’re on the Falmouth Launchpad programme and are creating an app called Now and Then, which does exactly what I needed in Barcelona and possibly a bit more.
Peter Kaela was doing a maths degree, competently but unsure where he would go after it was finished, when he discovered Falmouth Launchpad. He was interested in business and was really interested in getting a masters degree, while starting a business and getting paid for it tax-free. He felt like the Launchpad programme sounded almost too good to be true but he knew it would work out for him once he had come to Cornwall for an interview and chatted to the people behind the scenes.
Mike Robinson is retired – many times over. He describes himself as a serial entrepreneur, and seems unable to sit still. He seems to love working and moving and just doing things. Mike came to Falmouth after being told by his wife that this previous job took him away too often at the weekends and the Launchpad programme seemed a good way for him to create something that was really needed.
With their age gap and seemingly very different life experiences, they might sound like a mismatched couple, but chatting to Peter and Mike, it’s easy to see why this a partnership that works – and well.
Both of them are willing to learn from each other, and both of them see the potential of what could be a global app.
Now and Then will be geo-locating, and will alert users to walks, attractions and events in the area they’re in at the time. It will provide offers and incentives to visit museums and other areas of interest, with ready-made content in the form of audio tours, pictures and video to guide users through the places they’re touring.
It’s also not just attractions within buildings that Peter and Michael want to promote, but also walks within local areas, with archive content that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Mike says there’s a plan to release that content to the public rather than have it stored away in an unseen or untouched archive.
Now and Then will not generate its own content, rather, it sees itself as more of a collator of existing content, which is already readily available at attractions but occasionally inaccessible due to faulty equipment or not enough of it.
Peter says he expects the app to be beneficial in more ways than one – and hopes for it to one day replace the walking headset tour that is so often the mainstay of the attraction. This, Mike says, will be easy and accessible but also with more content that the user has control over. It will also – in the long run – save the attraction money.
Headsets need maintenance and charging up and they cost money to replace. An app on the other hand, is infinitely cheaper to maintain once it’s been developed and more accessible to a growing part of the community.
Peter says: “The content and media can also be easily updated as things change, and will benefit the area that is being promoted.”
“There are lots of people interested in history in the world,” says Mike, “Every town you go to has a history archive, with audio, video and pictures. But, in order to get to this, you have to go into the archive, and there’s quite a bit of it. Volunteers have to trawl through all of this content when a tour needs to be created, which can be a slow process and a changing one. This could be easily solved by the relevant content being uploaded to Now and Then and used as a walking tour around the attraction.”
He believes the app will be infinitely more convenient to the user, making it a better experience that is likely to mean increased visits.
The first possible tour the app has uploaded is a walk around the graveyard where Isambard Kingdom Brunel was buried, among other people of note. The Falmouth Historic Society, and other stakeholders, created an historic walk around the graveyard, using people dressed in period costumes, telling the stories of the remarkable people buried in the graveyard. This will all be recorded by the team and then all the media uploaded and written up for download on Now and Then.
Based on what you’ve said you like, routes in your area will be recommended to you, and also based on your location. Peter explains that the other good thing about the geo-location is you wouldn’t be able to do a tour of a Cornish musem, while sitting in Yorkshire. This, Michael and Peter hope will increase footfall to attraction area and therefore also revenue to those attractions.
Another useful feature of Now and Then will be that the tours can be downloaded ahead of time and used without data, which means that there’s no question of being caught out by dodgy broadband or mobile signal, if you’re slightly organised ahead of time.
The content will cost a nominal fee, if the content creator wants to charge for it, so there is minimal disruption and expense to the end user.
On research, the creators found that it’s families who need things to do at weekends, and this app is hoping to be the saviour of boredom. After downloading the app, depending on your location, the app will buzz you with information on tours, walks or offers close to you, to help you decided how to spend your time.
And finally, within the app, there’ll be a scrap-book feature, which would help people remember their experiences, which they’ll also be able to share on social media with friends and family.
The challenge for the team now, is the work that needs to be done to get the app up and running. There are quite a few relationships to be created as well as databases to ensure the content is available once beta testing is ready to start. They’ve got to do all of this, while working towards their master’s degrees, which they’ll graduate from next May.
After the incubation period, Now and Then will go into the acceleration phase with hopefully a host of attractions, walks and deals under its belt, ready to deliver to the public. I, for one, wish they’d hurry up, so I can go back to the Picasso museum with an easier walk around.
By Feyaza Khan
As Caroline Norbury MBE says, “CE50 highlights some of the exceptional talent that we believe will be central to the UK’s creative economy in the coming years. The people featured in this report are the talented minds at the very forefront of creativity.”
Tim Edwards, founder of Codices, said, “We work very hard to be the trailblazers in our field and it is a great honour to be recognised by Creative England as one of the Top 50 in the country. It’s a very exciting time for us and we have a number of new projects coming to fruition that we can’t wait to share. ”
Nick Dixon, Head of Launchpad, said, “We are delighted with all that Codices have achieved and this is a great endorsement of the company’s passion and highly innovative streaming technology. It is also an endorsement of Launchpad’s ability to foster great entrepreneurial talent and provide an environment and methodology for that talent to thrive and grow.”
Working the soil, rearing cattle and dairy cows have always carried their share of uncertainty. Recently, farms in the UK have found they’ve had to diversify in a variety of ways, with farm shops, craft areas and even tourism just to keep afloat.
According to gov.uk about half of farms in the country get an average of £10,000 extra revenue with diversified activity.
And it seems that recently, farmers in Britain have truly been bearing the brunt of market uncertainty due to overseas imports, climate change and Brexit.
According to a Food and Farming Futures essay, agriculture accounts for 4.6 percent of global GDP and 27 percent of employment. Add to this the fact that farming production volumes have increased by 76 percent in the last 30 years, and farming must be acknowledged as an important worldwide resource and employer.
Because of this, it’s of real concern that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes some countries could halve their crop yields in the next 35 years.
Climate Change is the world’s biggest worry and one of the key principles of the Paris Agreement  is to promote food production while adapting to the current effects of the weather.
But, what if there was a way to assess a farm’s yield? What if there was a tool to track – in real-time – every aspect of a farming business, bypassing the weather and climate change effects making the business hyper-efficient and also boosting productivity?
This is exactly the technology that has been created by Glas Data, right here in Cornwall with the help of Launchpad.
Rob Sanders is the CEO, and coming from a farming background, he’s extremely passionate about the role his software plays in creating sustainable farms.
Rob says being brought up in agriculture, he ‘had a look at the market and saw that while there were a lot of agriculture platforms, none of them were sharing any of their data. So we decided to find a solution to that.”
So, it’s clear that while there is a vast amount of information available to farmers, a lot of it is insignificant unless seen in context, which is where Glas Data comes in.
The tool they’ve created works using each farm’s individual data, and then assessing it against real-time inputs from every agricultural information source.
Farmers can eventually use the Glas Data software to monitor every single aspect of their business – from the water, to the soil, to the chemicals to the weather.
This would mean making farming a more effective business, and not so reliant on outside factors.
The technology doesn’t just work with crop yields and weather patterns. For example at a dairy farm, farmers would be able to predict if their cows have mastitis, which would negatively alter the quality of their milk. At any given time, it’s thought that 1-2 percent of cows have mastitis, which can severely affect a dairy.
Using the Glas Data analysis tool, farmers would be able to check the quality of the milk from each cow. If it’s found that a cow is at risk of mastitis, it can be treated before that cow is milked again, bringing the level of mastitis down and making a more efficient dairy farm.
According to Rob: “The farmers who are currently using our systems are really willing to engage and see a difference.”
Of course, like every company, there are teething issues; one of which is understandably farmers being afraid to try the technology.
But Rob says: “The way the agricultural sector is going, the smaller farms that don’t incorporate technology are not likely to succeed in their business. “
A comment that is echoed by HSBC’s Climate Change Strategist, Ashim Paun, who believes farming with technology is the only way to protect agricultural businesses.
According to Rob: “Cornwall is a surprisingly good example of modern faming in the UK. The county has a small amount of large farms and agricultural businesses that are using technology to grow their business”
Another tricky issue for the company is data-sharing, which the software ultimately relies on. While government sources are very accessible – if not always up-to-date – there are some companies that don’t always want to share their data. This makes it difficult to give a wholesome picture at the moment, but Glas Data hopes to use its stakeholders like major supermarkets as leverage. They might be able to put pressure on companies that don’t want to share their data, which would make information more freely accessible and help the efficiency of the country’s farming.
And how is doing this with Launchpad different to starting this business on your own?
‘There’s a lot more support than if we had started our business alone,” says Rob, “And the support we’ve received has been very valuable. It allows us breathing space to work out the business,” says Rob.
“Launchpad enabled us to go out there and try different things until we settled on agriculture. They also paid for two contract developers”
Now, the system has been through beta testing and is also in use in small measures, as the company has pulled in its first contract.
The way it works with Launchpad is each person gets put into a team of four, who you’ll start your business with. Each team gets given three ideas, which they do research and analyse to decide the one best suited to the team. This idea then gets pursued and finally turned into a business.
Like all businesses, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Rob says: “We identified that none of the ideas worked for us and decided we wanted to go into agriculture. I already had some knowledge of the sector and just saw an opportunity. Launchpad helped us validate our idea.”
The group were well prepared. “We did our research, created a business plan, presented it to Launchpad,” says Rob. “They looked at it, and saw that it was financially viable and helped us turn it into a reality.”
He says that being part of a very promising start-up is ‘really exciting’, but there is quite a bit of work that goes into it.
“You have to put a lot of time and effort in. and of course, the monetary benefits come a long way into the future, but if you’re willing to work hard, then I think it’s worth it.”
It also seems like working with Launchpad and by proxy, significant stakeholders and investors gives Glas Data both the assurance and confidence to break effortlessly into the agricultural sector.
With this patronage, it’s no wonder Rob believes: “Success to us looks very like a multi- million pound turnover with an international presence.”
 The Paris Agreement is made up of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, which are the climate change action plans that most countries have created to show their priorities and procedures.
Glas Data, one of the five teams Launchpad is incubating this year, has been featured by IG, a “world-leading online trading and investments provider”.
To see the video, head over to the IG website.
Today the government recognised Hertzian as a leading light of the British AI industry in their announcement of a £1bn deal to put the nation at the front of the industry. The deal includes more than £300m of newly allocated government funding for AI research.
Hertzian were incorporated in 2015, one of the companies out of the Launchpad programme. The main programme is now underway, with five more companies in formation, and 15 new teams planned for September 2018 start.
Find out more about Hertzian: https://www.hertzian.co.uk/
Find out how to become a founder of a Launchpad company: https://falmouthlaunchpad.co.uk/become-a-founder/
Launchpad are at EGX Rezzed today, tomorrow and Sunday. Come and find us in the Careers Fair – and try playing the first level of Get Packing from Moonshine Studios, one of the teams that we’re incubating this year.
On the 15th of February, Launchpad was pleased to welcome Rod Beer from the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) as part of a day devoted to building up the angel network within Cornwall. Falmouth University is an incubator / accelerator member of the UKBAA which reflects the increasing importance of innovation and business growth at Falmouth University. Business angels play a crucial part of the investment landscape for growing businesses and universities are great locations to bring together innovators, businesses and angels.
Rod provided an overview of the angel landscape and their importance in supporting growing businesses. The presentation also provided a practical guide to setting up a group and the key taxation, business and risk considerations.
A follow on meeting has been arranged for potential angels and further details are available from Michael Dickinson.