On 23rd June we held a very different kind of Tideway Innovation Forum – in the original studios where the BBC TV series ‘Dragons’ Den’ was filmed! The chosen Tideway innovators pitched their five ideas to the Tideway Dragons: Andy Mitchell, Roger Bailey, Janet Greenwood and Tracey Lee-Lewis. At stake was a maximum of £20,000 per idea, from a combined pot of £100,000 available on the day.
From over 30 ideas submitted to The Great Think in the run up to the event, the Innovation team and champions across the Alliance had whittled them down to the five chosen ideas given the opportunity to pitch in the Den. Each innovator had three minutes to present their idea, and the Dragons then just ten minutes to interrogate them before making a decision.
The first innovators to enter the fray were CVB’s James Keegan and Gary Wickens, with their ‘Real-Time Noise Monitoring’ software idea – to minimize the amount of downtime on site due to noise restrictions by using live data from noise feeds and therefore being able to forecast how long is left for doing construction activities during each 24 hour period. Despite tough questioning they responded well and won the Dragons’ approval.
Next, Masoud Daroghehkazem from Tideway’s Design Authority gave a passionate pitch on his innovative idea to clean up the existing litter in the river using our existing barge movements up and down the Thames. The Dragons were shocked to hear about the low understanding of the sources and extent of pre-existing litter, and although in the end decided against awarding innovation funding, agreed that as ‘business-as-usual’ Tideway should investigate this important issue further under Masoud’s direction.
Amey colleagues Josh Sansom-English and Ian Gordon were up next. They sought funding to develop Augmented Reality (AR) technology for remote surveys and inspections. Unfortunately they were not successful on this occasion – although the Dragons recognised the future potential, they thought industry collaboration would be better and so this idea will be passed to i3P for further discussion at a future Forum.
Our next innovators were more successful – Jennie Armstrong and Rachel Tomkins (left) started as they meant to continue, jogging up the stairs and launching into an energetic presentation that won over all four Dragons. They were pitching for £14,000 to develop and trial ‘Rightway Bootcamp’; an industry-first 11 week training programme covering physical, mental and financial health supporting Tideway’s aim to have everyone leave the project healthier than when they arrived.
Finally, FLO co-stars Alex Vaughan and Tom Inglis asked for £20,000 for their revolutionary Virtual Reality (VR) training for the TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine), which would allow operatives to immerse themselves and interact with a virtual TBM before doing it for real. Dragons were convinced by the potential safety benefits of this industry first and awarded investment.
Reflecting on the success of the day, Roger Bailey (Chair of TIF and Tideway i3P Forum member) said “The quality of the pitching was fantastic today, and everyone was a winner in their own way. What is brilliant is that we attracted over 30 ideas initially, and those that didn’t make it today we expect to develop and bring to a future Tideway Innovation Forum, so it’s not over yet. We have really spread the message that innovation matters across the whole Alliance.”