Tuesday 21 October 2014 – Media Release

World-class smart cities technology to underpin next phase of Canary Wharf development

City scale Cognicity Challenge launched at Canary Wharf’s Level39 to accelerate future cities innovation

Canary Wharf Group plc has today launched Cognicity Challenge, a major new initiative that will enable the company to play a leading role in the development of new smart cities technologies. The Cognicity team will kick off the programme with a series of themed challenges aimed at enabling the Group to identify, collaborate and buy solutions from some of the world’s most promising smart cities and IOT (internet of things) innovators – from startups to major corporations.

The Cognicity Challenge will ensure the continuation of the Group’s ground-breaking approach to development and engagement with the global startup community and Canary Wharf’s status as the most future-forward part of the capital. The launch coincides with the completion of the original Canary Wharf masterplan and the start of construction of a 4.9 million sq ft mixed use extension adjacent to the Estate on the site formerly known as Wood Wharf.

As of today, innovative smart cities companies will be able to apply for each of the themed Cognicity Challenges. The challenge process will accelerate the development of groundbreaking products and systems, with the most promising companies being offered the opportunity to pilot their technologies within the existing estate and into the latest phase of development at Canary Wharf. This ‘piloting phase’ is a groundbreaking step requiring industry-leading change throughout the Canary Wharf operations, and demonstrates the authenticity and commitment of Canary Wharf Group to building a future city.

Cognicity Challenge, which has the support of Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, will focus on digital technologies with the power to create ‘sentient’ cities that can automatically respond to the needs of its inhabitants and businesses, using city data and sensor networks. It will also support technology solutions that can deliver lifestyle improvements and make better use of users’ time and the city’s resources. A major target for the Group will be technologies that create efficiencies in its operations, from concept to build and operate, or valued added services that allow it to increase operating margins.

Sir George Iacobescu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Canary Wharf Group plc said: “The launch of this ambitious series of international competitions is an important milestone in delivering our future vision for Canary Wharf as one of the world’s most technologically-advanced and innovative destinations. Canary Wharf was the original smart city in London, designing services and systems into the fabric of the built environment from the outset. We want to continue this evolutionary process to become a globally-renowned smart cities innovation cluster.

Minister for the Digital Economy and Smart Cities Forum co-chair, Ed Vaizey, said: “Four in five people in the UK live in towns and cities, so it is crucial that Government and industry continues to support businesses developing new technology that will improve the quality of life in these areas.

“The Cognicity Challenge launched today aims to help talented tech companies to develop revolutionary new solutions to the challenges facing modern cities, from creating sustainable buildings to building homes that are more digitally connected. It looks to provide these companies with an enormous city-scale testing ground here in the UK in which to pilot their ideas – ensuring they can develop the best possible solutions to these challenges and grow their business.”

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK and one of the founders of the Internet of Things Launchpad, adds: “Britain’s tech sector is a key driver of innovation. With a critical mass of expertise in both hardware and software, the UK is in a strong position to lead the way in the Internet of Things for smart cities. The Canary Wharf Group’s Cognicity Challenge complements Tech City UK’s Internet Of Things Launchpad competition, further contributing to the UK’s potential to be at forefront of this transformative technology.”

The Cognicity programme is being designed and delivered by pioneering innovation practice Pivotal Innovations, who will execute six global challenges, each focusing on finding the best products and innovations in six key smart cities sub-sectors. Following a rigorous selection process, six startups in each sector will be invited to participate in a 12-week accelerator programme, resulting in 36 companies being accelerated through a programme designed to help bring their product or service to market.

  • Cognicity Challenge: Sustainable Buildings
  • Cognicity Challenge: Integrated Transportation
  • Cognicity Challenge: Connected Home
  • Cognicity Challenge: Virtual Design & Construction
  • Cognicity Challenge: Integrated Resource Management
  • Cognicity Challenge: Automated Building Management

Applications for the first two challenges (buildings and transport) open today and are open until 30 November, with entries from startups encouraged from the UK and internationally. Those interested in applying can do so through the Cognicity microsite – www.cognicity.london. Successful applicants will move in to start the accelerator programmes in early 2015.

The selected startups will receive specialist mentoring and training from experienced Canary Wharf Group executives and other major industry players, shared support services and workspace and access to the Level39 tech accelerator community at One Canada Square. £50,000 of prize money will be allocated to each themed accelerator, but the most important prize will be for the winning teams to deploy a credential-building pilot within the Canary Wharf estate.

There will be a strong emphasis on preparing startups for the ‘scale-up’ and ‘piloting’ phase and this is where accelerator theme sponsors can play a powerful role in partnering with the start-ups in collaboration with Canary Wharf Group to assist the winning six startups to deploy their product or solution within the Canary Wharf estate itself.



For further information:

Aleka Bhutiani, Director, FTI Consulting
T: 020 3727 1048

Ajay Teli or Elizabeth Adams, Canary Wharf Group plc
ajay.teli@canarywharf.com / elizabeth.adams@canarywharf.com
T: 020 7419 2000


About Canary Wharf Group plc:

Canary Wharf Group plc is an integrated property development, investment and management group of companies. It is focussed on the design, construction, leasing and management of grade A office space and high-quality retail, residential and leisure facilities in central London. Over the past 20 years Canary Wharf Group has regenerated derelict wharves into one of the world’s premier business and shopping districts, constructing over 16m sq ft of office space; more than any other company in London. These buildings are now occupied by over 100,000 people.

Canary Wharf Group’s tenants, clients and occupiers include some of the world’s leading business organisations from the media, legal, accounting, financial services, IT, energy and transport sectors. Canary Wharf Group has also developed and successfully let over 300 shops, bars, cafes and restaurants including many of Britain’s leading brands.

In addition to development on the Canary Wharf Estate, the Group is also involved with projects across London. The Pan Peninsula and Drapers Gardens developments have been successfully completed and construction continues on 20 Fenchurch Street (Walkie Talkie) in the City of London which is already 90% let or under offer. The Group is also in a joint venture with Qatari Diar for the redevelopment of the Shell Centre on London’s South Bank. w


About Level39 at Canary Wharf

Established by Canary Wharf Group plc, at 29,000 square feet, Level39 is Europe’s largest accelerator space for businesses innovating in financial, retail and future city technologies. It helps growing businesses to deliver world-class financial technology products and services through unrivalled access to office, event and social facilities, new customers, partners, talent, investment, ideas and social and cultural amenities provided by Canary Wharf.

Level39’s layout has been designed in ‘tech industry’ style by architects Gensler, who have worked on some of the world’s most exciting workspaces including offices for Facebook and Google.