Countdown to 2020

£50,000 prize for app to help businesses go green

A prize of £50,000 is on offer to software developers who can produce the best App to help businesses in Scotland reduce their carbon emissions.

The Scottish Government, SSE, SEPA and Microsoft launched the national competition today [Monday 12th March] in an effort to produce an App targeted specifically at small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

The SME EnviroApp contest was launched on the first day of Climate Week 2012 by Environment and Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson at a meeting of Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group, whose members have been instrumental in bringing the project together.

The App, which will be free to download, aims to assist owners of SMEs in Scotland to measure, manage and reduce carbon emissions – and play a part in achieving the 2020 targets.

Mr Stevenson said: “This is a great example of Scotland’s public and private sectors working together to develop creative, practical and effective solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to help businesses reduce their costs, increase their profits and at the same time keep Scotland at the forefront of climate change action. The Scottish Government will work with the 2020 Climate Group to make sure their expert advice and support is available to all of Scotland’s SMEs.”

The competition challenges participants to create an innovative App related to climate change, carbon management and energy efficiency that raises awareness across the dynamic SME community. Entries may be any kind of software application – for the web, a personal computer, a mobile handheld device, or any software platform widely available to the public. First round entries need to be in by June 10 and finalists will be invited to make full presentations in July or August

There will be a microsite dedicated to the EnviroApp competition as well as an official Facebook profile and Twitter feed, to raise awareness and encourage as many high-quality entries as possible. Details of the competition will go live by midnight tonight and can be found here: http://www.smeenviroapp.com

Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of SSE and convener of Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group, said: “It can be extremely difficult for small businesses to devote time to the low carbon agenda. The idea of the app is to offer them a straightforward way to measure, manage and reduce their environmental impact.

“We hope the cream of Scotland’s software developers will step up to the mark and come up with something truly innovative. The aim is simple – to develop an exciting and effective app that Scottish businesses will find easy to use and which will have a positive impact on their business. If we can achieve that, this app can make a real difference to the business world and the effect it has on meeting Scotland’s challenging 2020 targets.”

Melvyn Ingleson, convener of the Digital Participation Action Group (DPAG) and a key driver of the SME EnviroApp competition, said: “We very much hope that Scotland will be able to take the lead in developing an easy to use tool that will be adapted for use around the world. This is a chance for Scotland to showcase its commitment to the climate change agenda as well as its innovative software developer community on a global stage.”

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, and a member of both Scotland’s 2020 Group and the DPAG, said: “The EnviroApp competition should produce another useful engagement tool, building on the impact of the Envirowheel and the work being done by Business Gateway and several partners to create a single platform for presenting information related to climate change. I shall certainly be encouraging members of DPAG to promote the EnviroApp competition amongst the developer community and within Scottish universities and colleges.”

Funding from the four sponsors has created the prize fund of £50,000. The winner who makes best use of Microsoft technologies will also be taken to the company’s Seattle headquarters to meet the global software development and environment teams.

All those interested in developing their ideas are invited to join an intense App Development workshop to be held in Scotland in June that can provide further encouragement and support.

The winning app will be made available for free download from the Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group website and sponsors’ websites. It will be promoted across the 2020 Group membership, with businesses encouraged to report their actions online to build a collective picture of the progress of Scottish businesses towards climate change targets. The SME EnviroApp prize winner will be assisted in making the application widely available across a range of technology platforms and devices.

The App will also be promoted by the Scottish Energy and Resource Efficiency Service (SERES), a virtual partnership established to bring together the existing range of key business support and advice delivery bodies in Scotland. This service will make it easier for businesses to access professional energy and resource efficiency advice and provide a more consistent and comprehensive service through joint marketing, events and the cross-referral of requests for assistance. A SERES spokesman said: “The App will be an excellent opportunity to add another dimension to the work of the SERES partners, providing an additional way for businesses to access information and support.”

Derrick McCourt, Microsoft’s Scotland Director, said: “I was delighted to lend Microsoft’s support and technical expertise when approached by the original sponsors of the proposed competition. The small and medium-sized business community is a vital part of the Scottish economy. I am sure we will be able to count on Scotland’s developer community to produce some great offerings that will engage businesses and stimulate engagement in the climate change agenda that every business must address. We will be getting the word out too to Scottish colleges and universities who are likely to have some great ideas.

Initial judging will be conducted by a panel of 2020 Climate Group members, business group representatives and carbon management experts.