Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Pitch@Palace 4.0 – Innovation in action

November 6, 2015

Last month, we announced our partnership with Pitch@Palace: an initiative founded by the Duke of York to forward the pitch@Palacecountry’s entrepreneur agenda. At Cisco UK and Ireland, we are firmly committed to help support and accelerate start-ups and when we heard that the latest Pitch@Palace event was focused on the Internet of Things and Smart Cities, we just knew it was something we had to be a part of, and so did around 240 entrepreneurs and start-ups who applied.

From those applicants, the most promising 42 were selected to attend a bootcamp and as a member of the judging panel, I was faced with the tough job of whittling down the most promising applicants to 15 finalists who would have the opportunity to pitch live to a room full of potential supporters and investors including CEOs, Angels, Mentors, and key Business Partners.

But this wasn’t to be any old pitch in any old room…With our close affinity to the start-up community, we are lucky enough to attend many events and meet varied and fascinating individuals pursuing exciting and potentially life-changing ideas. But never more so than we attended the Pitch@Palace 4.0 final event this week at St James’s Palace. Because surely nothing could be more British than a pitch event in a palace where finalists know they have run out of time when the bearskin-hat wearing trumpeter plays his fanfare!


And it wasn’t just the setting for the event that was impressive. Much has been made in the press of late of British start-ups being too short-termist and timid. But not this lot! I was incredibly impressed by the breadth and scope of ideas we heard on the night with truly big ideas ranging from using drone technology to plant a billion trees a year to revolutionsing how prosthetic limbs are manufactured. In fact one of the great take-outs from the event is how technology can really be used for the greater good through bottom-up innovation and there was a strong ethical slant to many of the great ideas.

Three worthy winners were announced on the event; Baby LifeBox took third place with their low-cost baby incubator for underdeveloped and developing countries, providing basic facilities for the child’s survival. Second place went to Appear Here, a marketplace for commercial landlords and prospective tenants that can significantly reduce the time to rent empty property. And the overall winner was the very worth Knyttan who are revolutionising the way in which clothes are designed and manufactured, to reduce lead time, waste and combat the unethical use of labour in production. In fact their pitcher wore a jumper on the night that he’d designed and produced that very day! We were also delighted to see recent BIG Awards finalist Palletech pitch on the night too – their cloud connected pallets solution certainly gained a lot of traction on Twitter.


Whilst us judges had our say in who pitched at the palace, the final winners were voted through by people power, with all attendees on the night being able to cast their vote digitally to determine the winners.

And I’m delighted to say Cisco had a role to play here too. Working with one of our innovation partners, Purple WiFi – themselves a Pitch@Palace alumni – we were able to deliver a sophisticated WiFi experience whereby guests could easily access high-speed WiFi and were greeted with a splash screen from which they could seamlessly enter the voting application.

But the power of our WiFi lies in our analytics capabilities and particularly our Connected Mobile Experiences, which uses location data to enable better insights into a user’s customers to deliver more personal experiences for mobile users.

So what do we know from the Pitch@Palace event? Well from the Meraki dashboard and Purple WiFi’s sophisticated analytics, we saw 246 unique devices connect to the WiFi throughout the event, 79% of which were Apple devices. A quick search for the hashtag #PitchatPalace shows that many of the event guests (who were predominantly in the 25-34 age group and 73% of whom were male) were avid Twitter users and this is backed up by our own analytics, which shows Twitter was the 7th most popular destination accessed through our WiFi. We can also gather attitudinal insights based on data around social interests, which showed that compared to the aggregated national averages people attending the Pitch@Palace event were 8x more likely to support “issues and charitable causes”.

And perhaps the most interesting outtake is the Location Analytics heatmap (above) of the evening, where you can see the movement of guests throughout the palace as they connected and used the WiFi. Fascinating to watch, this level of analytics is invaluable in helping our customers to understand how visitors behave when they are at your site – be it an event venue or retail store. Gaining insights into onsite traffic and dwell times can then help them to innovate – influencing their merchandising, venue layout, staffing levels and positions and provide scope for highly accurate hyperlocation services.

All in all, Pitch@Palace 4.0 was a fantastic event – a historic venue, a very British feel to the proceedings, some awe-inspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups with some very big ideas showcasing the transformational potential of technology…and of course, excellent WiFi. It certainly wasn’t your average Monday night (as you can see from the below photograph of Tom Kneen, our head of innovation business development, posing alongside a member of the Queen’s Guard!) but goes to show just how exciting and varied the innovation world really is!P@P3

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