Virgin Media announces ‘Three New Things’ to shape face of technology

Telecoms giant grants winning tech start-ups Richard Branson mentoring and £25,000 prize

Virgin Media Business has announced the three winning tech start-ups of its major initiative ‘Three New Things’ ; a scheme designed to “unearth” the technology that could change the way we live and work.

Unveiled at an event at the British Film Museum last night, the ‘three new things’ are Buffalo Grid, which offers solar-powered charging units for mobile phones, 3D Cube Sat, which creates structure casings for tiny satellites in space, and Three Over Seven, which uses 3D printing to create printed-to-measure footwear.

The three businesses will each receive a package of mentoring and support, including the chance to meet with Virgin founder Richard Branson to discuss their business plans, networking opportunities and up to £25,000 worth of free business telecoms.

The winners were chosen using majority audience votes at the event,  attended by 250 ‘influential players’, with Three Over Seven receiving the most votes, following earlier judging by a panel of leading tech names to decide upon finalists.

The start-ups will be covered by Virgin on an ongoing basis, charting the progress of each of the innovations as they are developed and brought to market.

The ‘Three New Things’ are:

  • Buffalo Grid – Giving large solar-powered charging units for mobile phones away for free to African entrepreneurs who live in off-grid areas. This enables them to charge the phones of their customers (of which there are a total of 750 million) who can’t do so at home – making connectivity available to whole new swathes of rural emerging markets. This capital-free business model could also be replicated with other must-have items.
  • 3D Cube SatCubeSat structures are the casings for tiny satellites and currently sell for $2,500 but 3D Cube Sat has created a new space-resistant material that reduces the cost by 75%. They can be 3D printed inside another structure already in space, reducing launch costs and making space exploration affordable for the first time.
  • Three Over Seven – By using your mobile phone to scan your feet, and making the most of 3D printing, its technology will craft a pair of shoes that are an exact fit for your feet. A day after you’ve ordered, you’ll receive custom-fit shoes. Said to be the first time such a complex, custom object will be available to everyone.

Peter Kelly, Virgin Media Business managing director, commented:

“Reading these entries has been an inspiring process and has unearthed some genuine game-changers with the power to change lives around the world.

“As the UK gears up for growth again, this is exactly the kind of creativity and entrepreneurialism that we need to nurture in this country – from government schemes to community networks: we all have a part to play in supporting UK innovation.

“We can’t wait to get started with the winning teams and help them to shape our future. Who knows where our winners will be in five years’ time – we could be looking at the next WhatsApp.”

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