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The University of Southampton
Interdisciplinary Research Excellence

Pioneering web solution awarded major funding

Published: 12 August 2015

BluPoint, a spin-out company from Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton, has been awarded £0.5m to launch its "pop-up" local-web technology. The award has been made under the ICURe Innovation-to-Commercialisation programme, piloted by the SETsquared Partnership and funded by HEFCE and InnovateUK, the UK’s innovation agency.

BluPoint, a spin-out company from Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton, has been awarded £0.5m to launch its "pop-up" local-web technology. The award has been made under the ICURe Innovation-to-Commercialisation programme, piloted by the SETsquared Partnership and funded by HEFCE and InnovateUK, the UK’s innovation agency.

BluPoint has created a solar-powered networking system that allows communities to share digital content on their mobile phones. It's free to end users and they don't need a smartphone – the technology can even work without internet connectivity or a web browser. And what's more it's fast – since it creates a localised web, it can serve content up at speeds faster than 4G.

Dr Mike Santer, Founder and Director of BluPoint explained: "There are over seven billion connected mobile phones on the planet which is roughly the same number of people, so mobile phones are pretty much ubiquitous now. Our solution can use Wi-Fi, bluetooth and even FM radio to enable people to consume and create information on our network so anybody with a mobile device will get value from BluPoint."

Innovate UK is a government-sponsored initiative to fund, support and connect innovative businesses to accelerate sustainable economic growth. BluPoint provides a much needed solution for companies, governments and other key organisations in less economically developed countries without an internet infrastructure to communicate with people in offline and off grid locations. The company's vision is to "improve the lives of 20 million people in 20,000 communities by 2020".

As Peter Dingley, Director of BluPoint explained: "We want to have a social impact with this and what we do. Imagine putting a new infrastructure into a place that never had the web or an intranet. It enables a lot of innovation and offers local business a series of opportunities to emerge."

The inspiration for BluPoint came from Mike's PhD that he undertook at Southampton, for which he researched the adoption of mobile internet in Sub-Saharan Africa. He found that in low-resource off-grid rural communities it was common for people to spend between 40 and 70 per cent of their money on their mobile device every month. And this led to people taking desperate measures to get internet access.

Horrified by this link, Mike responded by striving to give people access to information that was entirely free at the point of use. The University supported his efforts, which allowed him access to key people and resources.

Mike said: "Southampton University and its associated Science Park are intrinsically linked with our journey. The funding we have just received would not be possible without the University as we were a spin out innovation into a business."

The funding will allow the company to get up and running and to bridge the gap between the commercial idea, and raising external funding to roll it out on a global basis. Their next step is to partner with a few companies on pilot projects to quantify the social impact of BluPoint. With potential applications in health, education and mining organisations communication just to name a few, the possibilities are far-reaching.

Notes for editors

  1. Through world-leading research and enterprise activities, the University of Southampton connects with businesses to create real-world solutions to global issues. Through its educational offering, it works with partners around the world to offer relevant, flexible education, which trains students for jobs not even thought of. This connectivity is what sets Southampton apart from the rest; we make connections and change the world. https://www.southampton.ac.uk/  https://www.southampton.ac.uk/weareconnected
  2. Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board – the UK’s innovation agency. Taking a new idea to market is a challenge. Innovate UK funds, supports and connects innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth. For further information visit www.innovateuk.org
  3. ICURe stands for ‘Innovation and Commercialisation of University Research’. ICURe is a collaboration of the SETsquared Partnership, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board), designed to move ideas and innovations out of universities and into the marketplace, where they will have the greatest impact.
  4. SETsquared is a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, which specialises in growing high tech start-ups through its incubation programme and other acceleration services.

For more information:

Glenn Harris, Media Relations, University of Southampton

Tel 023 8059 3212, email G.Harris@soton.ac.uk Twitter: @glennh75

www.soton.ac.uk/mediacentre/

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