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IM Competition Win is Momentum for Wheatley

June 30, 2015

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Back in March Wheatley were delighted to win the inaugural IM Innovation Competition.

The competition asked companies to come up with an innovative way to apply technology to elderly people to enhance their lives and Wheatley’s solution was software that assisted in everyday routines and communications to allow the elderly to live in their own homes for longer without feeling lonely, worried or vulnerable.

Now, with three busy months of engagement with Innovation Martlesham (IM) members and supporters behind them, Wheatley are making rapid progress in refining the concept of their idea and defining their target market.

Wheatley have always known that there is a large need for this sort of solution amongst older people who live alone, but are also aware that it is a crowded space for product development, because the size of the market just keeps increasing.  Their software development expertise makes it easy for them to build solutions to solve users’ problems, but in such a complex and emotive environment they face lots of questions.  How do they deliver the software on a platform the target users can easily engage with? Do they target elderly users, or their families, or even 50 somethings before they get old?  How do they respond to the huge range of increasing health and social concerns people face as they age or do they just stick to doing one thing well? How do they make the product un-intrusive, engaging and aspirational?

“Our prize has helped us answer some of these questions and more, plus our initial idea looks different and better than the one we pitched to the IM judging panel at the beginning of this year” says Jane Bromley, Wheatley Marketing Manager.   “Suffolk County Council have helped us refine our target market and better understand the motivations of those who live alone and those who care for them.  BT have provided invaluable insight on what is already happening in this market and what is likely to happen in the near future, helping us understand our niche and what we can (and can’t) offer.  And University Campus Suffolk have opened up possibilities for trialling the user interfaces and delivery platforms for our software at the point we are ready to initially test a prototype.   That amounts to a lot of very interesting research, insights and a network of fabulous contacts we couldn’t have progressed so far without.”

All this means Wheatley feel excited about the next three months of their project with IM and are looking forward to prototyping ideas that could make a real difference to an increasing part of our society. And what is even more exciting is that their possibilities keep increasing; from bespoke social networks all the way to the ever more tangible world of robotics.

 



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