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Martin Aitken, founder of EcoRoute, had the idea of incentivising carbon saving several years ago, but it was when he met Cambridge Design Partnership that the concept gained a new impetus. Support from the product development consultancy has helped EcoRoute to win one of the first Small Business Research Initiative contracts to be awarded in the East of England.

Martin explains, “School children simply aren’t taking enough exercise and 30% of our children are over-weight or obese, which is storing up health problems for their future and for the NHS. The concept we have created is a low cost gadget to monitor activity that will be fun for children to use and will tap into school-based social media so that children can motivate their friends.”

Cambridge Design Partnership works with developers of both consumer gadgets and medical devices, so provided a natural fit for EcoRoute. They were asked to create a miniature monitor and find a way of reducing the cost of production so that the monitor would be cheap enough to give away to school children.
Then the synergy between the companies began to spark new ideas that complemented Martin’s approach, as Warwick Bailey, Chairman of EcoRoute explains:

“We saw that a whole community approach would help provide the momentum needed to keep the children motivated. By cutting back on the use of cars to get to and from school, pupils would be reducing carbon dioxide emissions and would help their schools meet the targets they set themselves for their sustainable travel plans that became mandatory this year. Information captured by the monitors will allow the saving to be calculated automatically, making it easy for schools to administer the programme.”

Martin continues, “Until recently, the calculation of carbon saving has only been possible for large organisations. But the sophistication of the technology available from Cambridge Design Partnership means that there is no reason why schools and communities cannot calculate their carbon saving too. For children – and adults – to be able to see what their efforts have resulted in, can be a great motivator to do even better.”

EcoRoute has calculated that if 50 percent of primary schools in the East of England replaced 25 percent of their school runs with walking or cycling this would save 8.35 million vehicle miles or 3,105 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

The project impressed the judges of the East of England SBRI competition who saw that it would also assist the long-term goals of the NHS to reduce the demands on services created by the obesity epidemic.

The SBRI contract will enable EcoRoute, with Cambridge Design Partnership as its technology partner, to take the project forward. It is to undertake a full consultation programme with pilot schools in the East of England and NHS clinicians, and build a demonstration system.

Martin adds, “I have been working on this project for some time but this contract will accelerate the development process. We are now looking for schools and other partners interested in participating in the pilot scheme.”











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