In what must be the most anticipated announcement for hyperlocal publishers this year, Nesta has declared the winning Destination Local applicants today.
The scheme attracted 165 entrants looking to innovate in the hyperlocal space using mobile technologies and the final ten all have a different take on that proposition.
Destination Local showed the huge range of talent out there in the UK hyperlocal scene. And what an important time this for an innovation funder like Nesta to be in a learning exercise. Web usage is tipping inexorably towards mobiles which are mainly smart phones. Smart phones are usually location aware and local web content is tightly tied to a place. So people who publish for the local web need to explore and understand how mobile, location aware content is produced and consumed.
In a competitive world research to help the industry as a whole will only come from publicly or charitably funded organisations like Nesta. Nesta’s innovation remit makes them best placed to help produce and share in a new field – especially to benefit public service driven elements of the community.
The winners were:
– My Town from Welshpool and Newtown, Wales.
– Local Edge from Leith and Broughton, Scotland
– Leeds Online from Leeds, West Yorkshire
– Papur Dre from Caernarfon, Wales
– Our Town from Scotland
– #21VC from Loddon in Norfolk
– URTV from Helensburgh, Scotland
– LocalSay from London
– Kentishtowner from Kentish Town,
– Locali from Craigavon, Northern Ireland
On the Nesta blog, Jon Kingsbury said Nesta would be able to learn a great deal from the winning applications: “We think that because there are different possible research areas across this portfolio, the evidence generated from the projects should provide some useful information for most current hyperlocal media practitioners.”
The winners, subject to the legal agreements, now get cash and support to make their ideas a reality in a scheme which must surely be the biggest shot in the arm for hyperlocal publishers across the UK.
Talk About Local is very pleased to have been involved in the process – both myself and William took part in some of the early assessments (along with several others) – our personal thoughts below.
Talk About Local is already taking forward a joint Nominet Trust/Nesta project ‘hypARlcoal’ on geotagging and local augmented reality. We’d applied to Nominet who then partnered with Nesta, so we didn’t enter the competition.
Judging innovation is always tricky – absolute innovation and totally and utterly new idea no one has ever had before is very rare. It’s all about the context and like any competition we won’t know if we got it right until the winners start to deliver. The final panel has selected a great spread of use-cases so we should see some very interesting stuff.
It was an exacting exercise helping Nesta come up with a short list for the final panel – huge amounts of reading and research. I’ve judged quite a few public competitions now for different clients and as ever, bids with numbers did better than those without – basic traffic figures, attempts to evidence demand, basic business models, focus on sustainability etc. made bids stand out. As did evidencing rather than asserting partnerships. Copy and paste bids, submitted many times to different potential funders with only tiny amendment also stood out for the wrong reasons.
Nesta’s publication of bid videos is a great bit of transparency. You always feel sorry for people you know well who don’t quite make it through. And we are all conscious that there are 10 elated winners and 150 disappointed teams out there.
This was the first large-scale public competition of this type I’ve been involved in and I found the process both demanding and interesting. It contained a great many cross-checks and second scoring procedures – to such an extent in fact that we didn’t actually know who the winners were until yesterday!
All the applications have been made public almost from the start via the youTube videos of their pitches and, has been noted elsewhere previously, fell into three main categories – taking an existing service mobile, a tech solution or funding to keep on doing a hyperlocal activity.
We saw many bids essentially for continuation or linear growth funding but often there wasn’t a strong enough innovation proposition. That’s not to say that what these sites do isn’t hugely valuable, it’s just they simply don’t fit the innovation remit.
It was also difficult to assess some potentially great projects because applicants hadn’t provided enough research into likely demand. So, if there’s one tip I’d pass on to anyone applying for funding from this sort of pot in the future, that would be it – establish the demand. It doesn’t have to be professional market research – simply get out and talk to people and report back the findings.