Smart Seeds challenge grows fresh ideas for London

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15 June 2017

London’s inaugural Smart Seeds challenge is under way, bringing together high performing young professionals and experienced mentors to solve real-world problems.

Over the course of the 10-week programme, teams of young professionals work on challenges set by London’s leading private and public sector organisations, generate ideas and then pitch their best idea to industry at a showcase event on 12 July at Digital Catapult, 101 Euston Road, London NW1 2RA.

Participants will be presenting their ideas to influential London business leaders, including senior representatives from Transport for London, the Transport Systems Catapult and Greater London Authority.

Launched by founding partner GHD in Australia in 2013, the annual Smart Seeds programme has been embraced by private and public sector organisations around the world. This year Smart Seeds is also taking place in cities across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. As a global innovation programme, Smart Seeds provides a unique platform for people from different disciplines and organisations to work together to develop and refine fresh solutions.

This year’s diverse London challenges encompass the capital’s housing affordability crisis, the growing problem of loneliness in the city, how to improve air quality, addressing the unemployment that will result from the introduction of autonomous cars, and improving accessibility to a wider variety of the city’s tourist attractions.

Adam Tilling, GHD’s Operations Director, London, says “Whilst government, commerce and charitable institutions already do an enormous amount to address many of the above issues, the application of young thinking, undeterred by the overwhelming obstacles and impacts of innovation, can bring about unexpected opportunities. Once the challenges conclude, Smart Seeds provides participants with offline and online platforms for ideas to be shared, developed and implemented, as well as a roadmap for implementing them in real life.

Smart Seeds co-founder and GHD’s Global Leader of Innovation and Commercialisation, Jeremy Stone, sums up the essence of the programme: “If you can capture the energy of young professionals and their belief that anything is possible, and mix it with people with years of experience, that is a potent combination.”

Participants relish the opportunity to not only work on some of the most complex challenges facing London, but also to experience professional development and cross-sector collaboration beyond what’s usually possible in their day-to-day roles.

Simon Babes, Managing Director of leading consultancy Movement Strategies and 2017 Smart Seeds Mentor, comments: “Movement Strategies chose to get involved with Smart Seeds because it’s a great initiative which not only benefits our staff, but hopefully Londoners too. Providing a forum for our future leaders to interact, explore and innovate with their industry peers is a great opportunity for them to develop their skills and experience, whilst addressing real challenges. We’re excited to be part of the first London programme.”

Smart Seeds London launched on 9 May with participating organisations including the Digital Catapult (London city sponsor), Costain, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Croydon Council, Galliford Try, Inframation Group, Instant Group, London & Partners, Movement Strategies, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Taylor Woodrow BAM Nuttall JV, Transport for London and Transport Systems Catapult. 2018 will see GHD roll out Smart Seeds across other UK cities and a second London programme. To find out more please visit

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