Tech4Good Awards uncover new batch of UK 'tech for good' inventors & innovators

18 July 2019

Tech4Good Awards logo

The next generation of UK 'tech for good' innovators has been unveiled at this year's Tech4Good Awards. Organised by national digital accessibility charity, AbilityNet & sponsored by BT, the awards are open to any UK business, charity, individual or public body that invents or modifies digital technology to improve other people's lives.

This year's winners include The National Theatre, which scooped the Inclusive Design Award for its Smart Caption Glasses system. Smart caption glasses are a revolutionary new way for people with hearing loss to enjoy performances at The National Theatre. When wearing the glasses, users see a transcript of the dialogue and descriptions of the sound from a performance displayed on the lenses of the glasses.

Elsewhere, nine-year-old Mihika Sharma won the BT Young Pioneer Award for her work inventing the Smart Stick. Mihika's Smart Stick can help blind as well as deaf people to build up confidence in walking alone and alert them about obstacles. It guides them to their destination using Bluetooth and their phone GPS system – guiding them along the path using right and left vibrators, according to the navigation instructions

Other award winners include stand-up comedian, Lee Ridley, better known as Lost Voice Guy. He was the recipient of the Tech4Good Awesome Award, which he received in recognition of his huge success as the first stand-up comedian in Britain to use a communication aid in his routines.

The awards are now in their ninth year and this year's awards ceremony was held on the 17th July at BT Centre, London.

Each award winner will now have the opportunity to access a year-long programme of support that is designed to help them grow as much as possible after winning an AbilityNet Tech4Good Award.

AbilityNet Head of Marketing & Communications, Mark Walker said: "Congratulations to each award winner and the other finalists for their success in creating tech that is genuinely making the world a better place for other people.

"These awards celebrate their hard work and share their stories to inspire others, whilst recognising all entrants' considerable efforts. Judging the awards was a very tough task, with many worthy entries just missing out on awards.

"As well as the recognition and credibility that comes with winning one of these awards, the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2019 winners will also have the opportunity to access a year-long programme of support. This programme of support is designed to help each award winner grow as much as possible after they win an AbilityNet Tech4Good Award.

"We now look forward to seeing how our winners and the other entrants progress in future as they go on to shape the world and help others by using digital technology."

The AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2019 winners:

Tech4Good Awards 2019 winners

ACCESSIBILITY AWARD – sponsored by Microsoft

Winner: Digit Music

Control One, created by Digit Music, was developed in response to the need for a non-instrument alternative for severely people with disabilities to create music. The only product of its kind, it allows physically disabled people to create music without having to learn an entirely new physical skill.

AGEING SOCIETY AWARD – sponsored by UnLtd

Winner: Safe & Found Online

Safe & Found Online is a social enterprise established by two long-standing work colleagues in the social housing sector, Chris Cheshire and John Henderson. Safe & Found's aim is to give users, their families and carers the peace of mind to know that should they be reported missing, the Police will be using the best information and technology they need.

BT YOUNG PIONEER AWARD

Winner: Mihika Sharma – Smart Stick

Mihika's Smart Stick can help both blind as well as deaf people to build up confidence in walking alone and alert them about obstacles. It takes them to their destination using the Bluetooth and the phone GPS system - guiding them along the path using right and left vibrators according to the navigation instructions. This will help prevent injuries.

COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD – sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group and Good Things Foundation

Winner: Beam

Beam is a breakout tech for good that crowdfunds employment training for homeless people. Its innovative approach uses digital technology to remove financial barriers for the homeless community and allows them to improve their skills to get into well-paid work. Bringing together the public sector and the best of tech, Beam is partnered with the Mayor of London, while being advised by tech luminaries.

CONNECTED SOCIETY AWARD – sponsored by Samsung

Winner: MeeTwo

MeeTwo is a free, fully moderated, peer support mental health help app. MeeTwo enables young people (aged 11-23) to talk about difficult things, and to help themselves by helping each other. Based on the latest psychological research, MeeTwo is innovative because it allows teenagers who have coped with difficult life events or mental health issues to transform those experiences into useful advice for others.

Tech4Good Awards 2019_Kate Russell, Technology Journalist, Mihika Sharma aged 9, Andy Wales, Chief Digital Impact & Sustainability Officer, BT, Mark Walker, Head of Marketing, AbilityNet [image credit - Guerman Botten]

DIGITAL VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD – sponsored by Do it Life

Winner: Chris Grant

Chris Grant is AbilityNet's Area Coordinator in Scotland, or "King of Scotland" as he is affectionately known by the central team. Since starting in May 2018, he has completely transformed their free services in Scotland, generating huge growth in the number of volunteers and the hours of free tech support provided to older people and people with disabilities.

INCLUSIVE DESIGN AWARD – sponsored by Scope

Winner: National Theatre

The National Theatre's Smart Caption Glasses system is an automated, always-on closed captioning service which pairs speech-following technology with smart glasses, allowing patrons with hearing loss to attend any performance on any day. The system "listens" to what is being said or sung on stage and text is sent to glasses via Wi-Fi.

TECH4GOOD DIVERSITY AWARD – sponsored by Nesta

Winner: WhiteHat

WhiteHat is a tech startup on a mission to create a diverse group of future leaders by building an outstanding alternative to university through apprenticeships. WhiteHat is transforming apprenticeships by developing high quality education and training that supports the needs of both employers and young people, underpinned by a thriving on and offline community.

TECH4GOOD FOR AFRICA AWARD – sponsored by Comic Relief

Winner: Jangala

Jangala was developed as an internet solution to help refugees living in the Jungle refugee camp in Calais. Since this first implementation, it has developed into a social enterprise to connect the most vulnerable in the world in order to reduce isolation, promote human rights, deliver education and improve life chances.

TECH4GOOD Awesome AWARD

Winner: Lost Voice Guy (Lee Ridley)

Lee Ridley is an English stand-up comedian, performing under the stage name of Lost Voice Guy. Disabled since early life, and unable to speak, he is the first stand-up comedian in Britain to use a communication aid in his routines. Lee won Britain's Got Talent in 2018 and the BBC New Comedy Award in 2014. Lee's other credits include America's Got Talent: The Champions (NBC), Live At The Apollo (BBC Two), The Royal Variety Performance (ITV).

Tech4Good Special Award

Winner: Dr Sue Black, OBE

A Technology Evangelist and Digital Skills Expert, Sue was awarded an OBE for "services to technology" in the 2016 Queen's New Year's Honours list. She is now a UK government advisor, thought leader, Honorary Professor of Computer Science at UCL, social entrepreneur, writer and public speaker. Her current social enterprise #techmums is changing lives. #techmums teaches mums tech skills and builds their confidence encouraging them into education, entrepreneurship and employment.

TECH4GOOD PEOPLE'S AWARD - powered by Crowdfunder.co.uk

Winner: MeeTwo

MeeTwo is a free, fully moderated, peer support mental health help app. MeeTwo enables young people (aged 11-23) to talk about difficult things, and to help themselves by helping each other. Based on the latest psychological research, MeeTwo is innovative because it allows teenagers who have coped with difficult life events or mental health issues to transform those experiences into useful advice for others.

WINNER OF WINNER'S AWARD – sponsored by Information Technologists' Company

Winner: Beam

Beam is a breakout tech for good that crowdfunds employment training for homeless people. Its innovative approach uses digital technology to remove financial barriers for the homeless community and allows them to improve their skills to get into well-paid work. Bringing together the public sector and the best of tech, Beam is partnered with the Mayor of London, while being advised by tech luminaries.

For more details on the Tech4Good Awards, including all of this year's finalists and previous years' winners, visit: www.tech4goodawards.com

About AbilityNet

National charity AbilityNet has over 20 years' experience enabling people with disabilities to use technology to change their lives at home, at work and in education. Globally acclaimed for its expertise in workplace disability management and digital accessibility, AbilityNet works with clients in the private, public and voluntary sector, including all major Departments of State and many FTSE top 100 indexed companies.

About BT

BT's purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world's leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.  BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.


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