Tech for good 

April 5, 2017

Gary Thompson and Ellen Howard

Gary and Ellen established GoRaise in January 2015 to address a complaint echoed by many of their friends about ‘giving fatigue’. Their idea was to create an online loyalty platform where, instead of earning customer points, you could accrue donations for your chosen causes, ranging from schools, sports clubs, charities, girl guiding units, churches and many more. GoRaise was a Tech North Northern Star regional winner and now has seven members of staff based in London and at Campus North in Newcastle.

Jack Brinn and Ashley Stokeld

Virtual reality (VR) has been touted as the next big thing mainstream entertainment but Jack (29) and Ashley (27) are using this innovative technology to help stimulate happiness and wellbeing among care home residents – many of whom suffer from dementia and/or mobility issues. Reminscience, which the pair founded in February 2016 and is based in Gateshead, provides fully immersive films that users experience via the latest VR headsets. To date, the pair have recreated a visit to the beach as well as a historic vision of South Shields. Jack and Ashley say they have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from users and their carers who report a new digital enabled form of freedom.

Zoe Farrington and Andrew Richardson

REALRIDER was the brainchild of Zoe Farrington and Andrew Richardson who, acutely aware of the vulnerability of lone motorcyclists when accessing speedy medical attention after a crash, developed an app that would automatically and directly connect riders to the nearest NHS ambulance service should the worst happen. Now the UK’s only 999 certified app, REALRIDER has won multiple awards and raised £1.6 million of investment (from North East sources). Zoe and Andrew will launch a Canadian version of the app this month and are exploring possible new markets in Asia. The pair are also considering expanding the technology for other vulnerable groups.

Jonathan O’Halloran

It was from his garage that molecular geneticist Jonathan O’Halloran first began developing technology with the potential of revolutionising worldwide patient diagnosis. His work eventually attracted the attention of former nurse and healthcare entrepreneur Elaine Warburton and the renowned Newcastle-based geneticist Sir John Burn. Jonathan is now based in the Lugano Building on the Quayside with a staff of 60. QuantuMDx’s flagship Q-POC is a handheld device that allows doctors to accurately and cheaply diagnose patients within minutes based their DNA sequence. With massive implications for treatment in developing countries, the Q-

POC has attracted the attention of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation now supports QuantuMDx in its endeavours. With proof of concept achieved, Jonathan is hoping to have a marketable version of the Q-POC by 2018.

Ami Davies
My Little Explorer 

Entrepreneur Ami Davies began developing the concept of My Little Explorer after temporarily losing her daughter in a supermarket. She realised that this brief yet highly traumatic event was all-too familiar for parents and so set about developing a tech-enabled device that that would alert, via an app, a parent or carer if a child wandered beyond a pre-determined boundary. My Little Explorer wristbands come with a child-friendly story book that helps explains separation avoidance in a non-scary way. Since 2013, Ami – and co founder John Atkinson – have secured more than £100k of investment. My Little Explorer also won The People’s Choice Award at the regional If We Can You Can Challenge.

Paul Irwin and Nicky Kaur-Nagi

Former social worker Paul developed the concept of TryLife with his partner Nicky as a way of using technology to educate a mobile-savvy audience on a large scale, amid austerity which had depleted traditional methods of intervention. TryLife’s interactive films – made by a core team and youth volunteers – tackle social issues and ask viewers or ‘players’ to explore different consequences by letting them choose the direction of the film. TryLife has produced two episodes to date – and is currently completing a third – which explore themes of sex, drugs and violence, has built a Facebook community of more than a million. Paul and Nicky recently triumphed at the regional Pitch@Palace on Tour and will visit Buckingham Palace at the end of the month where they will be joined 11 other tech entrepreneurs and investors and influencers from around the world.

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What I’ve Learnt: Julian Leighton