Longitude Explorer Prize 2020

Supporting young entrepreneurs to change the world with AI enabled tech

What was the Longitude Explorer Prize 2020?

The Longitude Explorer Prize 2020 focused on how Artificial Intelligence can help solve the most pressing problems facing society, from climate change and pollution to health and wellbeing. The challenge, supported by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) called for the best and boldest ideas that use AI to make the world a better place. 

Why did we run the Challenge?

The Longitude Explorer Prize 2020 challenged young people from diverse backgrounds to apply STEM skills to develop innovative, practical solutions to society’s biggest issues using technology. The Prize offered a positive intervention, enabling students to discover innovation and entrepreneurship early on, while also providing opportunities to learn the foundations of establishing a marketable product from business mentors.

What were we looking for?

The Longitude Explorer Prize was open to any organisation in the UK that works with young people aged 11-16 such as schools and youth groups. Participants were encouraged to submit ideas that use AI to help people live longer (helping the older generation to stay independent and active), live better (helping people live healthier), live together (through better transportation and tech) and live greener (helping tackle pollution and energy saving). These were based on the Government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges

What happened?

  • The Prize attracted 807 entrants, 55% of whom were girls, 30% identified as Black, Asian and minority ethnic, and 8% identified as having a disability.
  • 60 semi-finalist teams were provided with learning materials and real examples of AI uses to help kick-start the teams’ creative thinking. 
  • 40 finalist teams were then supported with industry mentors to develop their solutions into real-world prototypes.
  • The winners were awarded £25,000 for their school, three runners up were awarded £5,000 and a ‘People’s Choice Award’ through a public vote awarded a prize of £5,000.

100% of team champions...

would enter future prizes, 90% rated their overall experience as excellent

98% of students...

said the prize had inspired them to pursue entrepreneurship in the future

Of the 807 total entries...

55% of this year’s entrants were girls and 30% identified as BAME, and 8% identified as having a disability

The top teams

TOMODACHI - Team Iscort from Greenford High School

Their winning solution, a smartwatch app operating as a personal assistant for people as they grow older, was chosen as the winner as the judges thought that the standard of research and detail put into the idea was extremely high. They described the work the team put into it as “outstanding”.

Theo The Therapy Dog -Team Gowerton SFT

The Peoples’ Choice Award winner with over 13,000 votes, the therapy dog has a built-in artificial intelligence and helps autistic people to feel more secure in unfamiliar surroundings and in places where they may experience sensory overload.

Ocu-helper – by Team iMedia

This runner-up is a product which uses spatial and visual AI to support those with visual impairments navigate their surroundings. Ocu-helper was chosen a runner up by the judges as they felt this was a complex and big idea where the team had really delved into the research and design.

Freewheelers – by Team ADOA

This runner-up is an app which will create more accessible routes, such as avoiding difficult terrains, gradients and steps, as well as obstacles, for those who may need them. Freewheelers was chosen as a runner up as this idea impressed the judges with its clear presentation and use of different applications of A.I. and data.

Ocean Cleanup – by Team Walton S-AI-lors

This runner-up is a fleet of AI catamaran ships which travel the oceans scooping up the plastic that pollutes the water surface. Ocean cleanup was also chosen as a runner up as the judges felt that the idea could have a significant impact on an important problem area and that the team worked excellently together.

Impact

  • The Prize reached a diverse range of young people, with 55% of applicants identified as female, 30% as from a minority ethnic group and 8% as having a disability.
  • Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, 90% of teams successfully completed their submissions to the Prize.
  • 100% of team champions would enter a team into the Prize in the future.
  • 90% of team champions described their experience of participating in the Prize as excellent.
  • 36% of entries were from schools with deprived pupil populations.
  • 95% of finalists learnt entrepreneurship skills they would find useful after the Prize.
  • 100% of team champions said their students had a more positive attitude towards entrepreneurship as a result of the Prize.

Read the final report

The Longitude Explorer Prize 2019 team

Maddy Kavanagh

Programme Manager, Longitude Explorer Prize

Nassin Watson

Assistant Programme Manager

Hannah Picton

Assistant Programme Manager

Constance Agyeman

Director of International Development

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