What do solar charging hubs for the developing world, 3D-printable plastic satellites and printed-to-measure shoes have in common?
It's up for debate... but we think they're some of the most exciting new tech ideas that have the potential to change the way we live and work for good.
Now that the UK economy is getting back on its feet, we need these kinds of projects more than ever. SMEs and entrepreneurs are powering growth and creating much-needed jobs up and down the country. The tech start-up ecosystem is a crucial part of that. Digital investment is already one of the UK's greatest competitive advantages, and we need to work together to keep it that way.
That's why we launched our Three New Things initiative, set to find new tech ideas that are brighter, better and more creative than ever.
It's about giving these ideas a chance to power future growth, maintain the UK's leading role in innovation and inspire a new generation. This week we announced the three lucky winners, who will get mentoring and support from us, including time with Richard Branson and a package of free business telecoms.
So here they are...
These entrepreneurs are giving away solar-powered hubs, allowing people to charge their phones in off-grid areas. The system charges users per increment of power - rather than for the kit itself - removing the barrier of costly up-front investment. It means bringing connectivity to a whole new generation of mobile users in a developing market.
CubeSat structures are the casings for tiny satellites. And currently sell for $2,500. This entrepreneur has created a new space-resistant material that means they can be mass-produced through 3D printing, reducing costs by 75%. For academic institutions, space exploration could now be affordable for the first time.
Three Over Seven
This London-based start-up is bringing custom-fit footwear to the masses. By using your mobile phone to scan your feet, the technology crafts a pair of shoes that are an exact fit for your feet. And you can get them delivered within a day of ordering. Although this type of manufacturing already exists in various forms, this is the first time such a complex model will be widely available.
Britain's tech landscape is already heaped with examples of brilliant innovation that are driving our digital advantage - carbon fibre, the television and the World Wide Web, which just happens to be celebrating its 25th anniversary this week.
We need to work together - as businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals - to keep making these kinds of ideas a reality. It's not only about driving jobs and capital growth with huge returns. It's also about making our lives a little more exciting, our day-to-day tasks a little easier and keeping the UK on track as Europe's leading hub for digital innovation.