Exeter based sustainable water management business secures grants with the help of innovate2succeed programme.
A smart rainwater management company has secured two grants of €60,000 and £10,000 and seen a rise in turnover thanks to support from the innovate2succeed (i2s) programme.
Over-the-Air (OTA) Analytics provides smart rainwater management solutions that extend beyond the current passive management models to ones that provide real-time control. Before OTA Analytics developed its systems there was a lack of control systems that could integrate real-time rainfall data with catchment based monitoring and water management.
The company’s Internet of Things (IoT) based smart systems allow Water Companies, Councils and other users to capture, reuse and control rainwater in order to prevent flooding and mitigate drought.
With a growing population increasing demand, and less predictable rainfall patterns, water conservation is becoming increasingly important. In 2017, over a metre of rain fell across the UK and yet the country still has less drinking water (1,334 cubic metres per person per year) than France (3,065 m3), Italy (2,785 m3) and Spain (2,775 m3). Rainwater harvesting and control is crucial in allowing the UK to provide the 150 litres of water an average person currently uses every day.
Peter Melville-Shreeve, Managing Director of the Exeter-based company, spotted a gap in the market during his doctorate at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Water Systems. Working in collaboration with Severn Trent Water, he identified that not enough was being done to manage rainwater appropriately, particularly within our cities.
OTA developed a test-bed of IOT based products that will help the water industry understand real time data enabling them to make informed choices. The company’s vision was propelled thanks to investment from SDS, a multi Award winning water infrastructure systems company based in Somerset. SDS’s management team could see the significance and value of the data that OTA can harness and has worked closely with Peter to support the systems OTA now deploys.
Before taking the product to market, OTA sought support with its market development strategy, funding and Intellectual Property. Innovate2succeed advisers guided OTA through a review of its current innovation and growth strategy. This identified a need for better insight into investment readiness, a social media strategy and a comprehensive audit of its IP.
Intellectual Property Audit
The IP audit, conducted by Stephens Scown, looked at many aspects of the company’s position and, importantly, unearthed the fact that there was already a company trading under a similar name, called Cloudkeeper, which was very similar to OTA’s name at that time - "Kloudkeeper”. As no products had yet been introduced to market, the company took the opportunity to rebrand as “OTA Analytics”, expressing a focus on the data made available from its IoT sensors and controls.
Kim Howat, a funding expert from i2s, advised OTA on bid preparation strategy. This support aided the company in securing a €60,000 grant from OrganiCity for a pilot scheme in London, which aims to quantify water usage, urban cooling, CO2 pollution and rainfall to assess the holistic benefits of OTA’s rainwater management system.
I2s also helped OTA secure a £10,000 grant from the Digital Catapult for the ‘Things Connected’ programme, enabling the company to deliver a ‘proof of concept’ for a LoRaWAN version of its system.
Following this success the company is planning to bid for further grants as part of its continued development and growth.
OTA also received support to better understand its business planning and financial forecasting. Simon Thompson, i2s adviser, helped the company develop its financial forecasts and provided the team with bespoke tools to improve its accounting systems.
Matt Young, i2s digital expert, provided support with establishing a digital marketing strategy and embedding social media processes, which has led to more efficient and effective marketing.
Speaking of the help received from i2s, Peter said: “It’s been such a useful process. When you‘re a small company, you don’t have the time to sift through scores of potential business support companies and specialists”.
“We are an innovation-focussed company, but i2s allowed us to further plan our journey. We don’t need to be encouraged to innovate but structuring our pipeline of R&D was a valuable element of the collaboration. There is always an opportunity to refine your product offering and business model and i2s helped massively with this.”
David Riddell, i2s Project Manager, said: “It is a pleasure to work with an exciting business at such an important time in its development of new products. I am delighted that the innovate2succeed support has helped take this product to market and will continue to support OTA to capitalise on its technology”.
OTA continues to go from strength to strength and has recently secured further contracts with Water Companies and a Local Authority. The Company’s installation team are currently commissioning a series of real time control systems at sites throughout the UK and they have recently completed a partnership with the Santander Smart City Project in northern Spain.