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Ordnance Survey to Open Hub Dedicated to Innovation

In a move that aims to energise innovation in the UK geospatial industry, Ordnance Survey is opening a London-based Geospatial Innovation Hub to attract new players, new visions, new thinking and new markets.

In the past five years OS, through its GeoVation Challenges, has awarded almost £650,000 in funding 28 new ventures, and Britain’s mapping agency believes its new Hub, the location to be announced in March, will build on this. OS anticipates the Hub will expose and expand industry opportunity for existing and new participants through the innovative adoption and application of its UK geospatial assets.

Cathrine Armour, former Programme Manager for Abu Dhabi’s Global Environmental Data Initiative, joined OS last November to work alongside Peter ter Haar, OS’s Director of Product and Innovation, on delivering the Hub.

Cathrine says: “One of the biggest challenges facing the geospatial industry and all those operating in it is: Innovating. As a major industry body there is a responsibility, and an opportunity, for Ordnance Survey to support the geospatial industry and take it forward with this Innovation Hub.

“To increase the relevance of our industry we need to expose ourselves to new thinking, to undertake thought leadership and share this in a way that as an industry we lift our gaze. The Hub will enable OS and its partners to work collaboratively with fringe industries, new media, digital and emerging technologies. Our industry is changing. How data is accessed is changing. How data is captured is changing. The industry must respond to these developments and organisations must evolve. It is a competitive environment and organisations that remain static risk stagnating and the danger of being displaced by the new and those evolving.”

The Hub, located on the fringes of London’s Knowledge Quarter, will be home to a multifunctional team of entrepreneurial thinkers drawn from OS’s own talent pool and the broader geospatial industry, as well as those new to the industry that have been selected from developer, new media space and creative and design communities. The idea is for OS to assemble a wide range of skills that apply to the process of innovation that complement and push each other towards achieving the goal of step change in geospatial products and services. To see those products and services become geo-encapsulating rather than geo-centric.

Cathrine explains: “OS has its own product development team at its headquarters in Southampton, but the Geospatial Innovation Hub is not only about product development. The Hub will be a creative focal point for partnering on open and closed innovation. It will be an arena for experts from across OS and the industry, all of whom have an intimate knowledge of our data, APIs and application development. We want to connect with individuals and SMEs who have identified opportunity, envisioned the solutions and are seeking technical, geospatial expertise, guidance and support. It will also be the place where established UK and global organisations can partner with us to work on the creation of specific products or services that will challenge how we use location to solve problems and create new markets. Above all, it will be an imaginative environment focused on the horizon and beyond.”