Awaretag built its sensor technology and AI driven online software, to make it easy for anyone to understand where they can save money, live in a damp free home and plan for a net zero future.
Tell us about your startup?
Our technology is for Housing Associations, Councils, Retrofit teams, Surveyors, Energy Advisors and residents, looking to understand how the fabric of the building and habits will make a home better.
You only need 8 sensors in a house (one in each room), and our software builds a 3D picture of temperature, humidity, ventilation and mould risk areas for the whole space over time.
We enable customers to see into corners of the building that we previously hidden by cupboards, beds, sofas, or difficult to assess as they could only take a snap shot in time. With our software and sensors, you can see the stages of mould growth, insulation and heating performance over time, how well the ventilation is working, and whether the environment is dangerous to health.
You can act before risks become a crisis. Plan improvements without the guesswork. Be certain that improvements have worked.
We are based in Bristol but are national in our reach. We are working with some of the largest Housing Associations and Councils in the UK including Sunderland, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Bristol, Leicestershire, Sussex. We are also partnered with one of the largest Energy Advisory and Social Impact Charities helping solve the problems detected by our technology.
We have won recognition from Government Digital Services for designing accessible systems that help the most vulnerable, and have recently won funding from Northern Gas Networks to find the link between the quality of homes and respiratory conditions.
Why did you establish the business?
I started the business to tackle the problem of mould, damp and poor energy efficiency that affects the health and wellbeing of over 2 million households in the UK every year.
Part of the problem was a lack of understanding of how buildings perform over time with people in them. This resulted in confusion, reliance on old remedies that didn’t work in a changing world, and in the worst cases, people being left to feel they are to blame and putting up with it. There was no way to accurately and easily, measure and predict the likely causes and pinpoint what to do.
As a result, Housing Providers are repeating mould and damp repairs every year that can eat into 20% of their budgets. Surveyors are only able to take a snap shot of the lifecycle of the home as traditional methods are costly, time consuming and intrusive. Retrofit teams continue to worry whether the £100,000’s spent on insulating properties would create additional repairs costs due to the build-up of moisture. Energy Charities, are over worked trying to provide personalised assistance but with no data.
What is your USP?
For us, pictures paint a thousand words. We have taken complex science and turned it into online 3D digital twins of the insulation and heating performance of the home, education on ways to improve it, and personalised help should you need it.
Our ‘test and predict kit’ is delivered in the post. Anyone can use it. This makes it a scalable solution that can speed up tackling the 2m homes that have mould and damp, and the 27m that need retrofit improvements
We developed the software over 3 years working with AI, Robotics and Networks specialists from Leeds, Huddersfield and Sheffield Universities. We designed edge processing to reduce the amount of wireless connectivity to servers and preserve privacy. This means our solution can work in no coverage areas, low bandwidth (LoRaWAN) and broadband (LTE, WiFi). Scaling the technology to any network in any country is now possible regardless of bandwidth availability.
Above all else, we design for people. We help people see for their own eyes where a problem is, what may be causing it, and the options for making it better. We design UI and UX journeys to be inclusive and personalised for everyone regardless of skill level. The more people understand, the easier it is to resolve a problem and make the improvement sustainable.
Our approach is recognised for delivering results and it helped us pass the Government Digital Services 14 point Alpha Assessment in 2021 whilst competing against an established global brand.
What is your relationship with the telecom sector?
The team has a long combined history in telecoms. From the earliest circuit switched data days, through to 2G, 3G, 868, LoRaWAN, Sigfox, BLE, 4G, 5G. We have always looked for ways to optimise electronics, data processing, power consumption, and network availability so the customer and users can still get deep insights regardless of the network.
We are working with Toshiba, Leeds City Council, Baltic Broadband and BAI communications using their LoRaWAN networks across Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool and Sunderland. Together we are proving that you can get high fidelity, accurate data from every room in a home using a narrow band, low cost network.
This is good for Housing Associations and Councils looking to invest in low cost networks that can enable new digital services for all residents including the most vulnerable.
How have you got to your current stage of development?
Our journey started in 2020 where we won an Govtech/SBRI funded 18 month project to work with Leeds City Council Social Housing team and their tenants to find new ways to enable proactive repairs and improvements in Health and Wellbeing.
From the start, our philosophy was that monitoring of homes would not work without the consent of people. We chose to take an ‘informed consent’ approach which meant designing hardware that people would love to have in their home, a data collection and sharing policy that was transparent, and an installation approach where tenants requested the solution and could put it in themselves.
COVID 19 lockdowns created an environment where we had to prove that our approach could deliver a remote management service from installation to diagnosis to remedy. We partnered with a local charity to provide the on-the-ground advice following the diagnosis from our technology.
It was like a health check kit delivered in the post, diagnosis performed by the tenant and our technology, with advice given by experts online, on the phone or in person.
This inclusive approach saved installation costs, and ensured people were part of discovering the problem and being part of the solution. Our approach ensured we passed the Government Digital Services Alpha Assessment.
In 2022, we won funded places on the BAI Communications and Sunderland City Council IoT/5G accelerator programme, and the Toshiba/Umbrella programme. Since those initial programmes, we are now developing further funded pilot projects in the social housing and care home sectors.
In the same year we were selected by Disruptive Innovators Network to develop funded pilot projects with some of the largest Housing Associations in the UK. We are using our technology to discover defects in the fabric of the building and the impacts that daily activity has on the risk of mould and damp.
We also won funding from Northern Gas Networks to deliver a 15 month project in collaboration with Green Doctors Yorkshire that would measure and predict the health of 1000 homes, and measure the impact that improvements made on health and wellbeing.
Our growth has come from grants and organic development of pilots. We have developed value in hardware, prediction algorithms, software and cloud services to solve big problems in social housing and the construction sectors.
We now understand what elements provide most value for our customers and the business, and have developed a recurring revenue model that we are testing with customers. We are preparing to scale the business and will be looking for seed funding.
Who Inspired you?
I have always made sure we are diverse team. Ideas, experiences, capabilities, age, origins are all important when trying to create an innovative business. We’ve had PhD students working with us who have ended up working for Dyson! Residents who have enjoyed working with us so much they want to be the voice of the company. Surveyors giving up their time regularly to help us.
Our drive comes from individuals within Housing Providers and Charities who wake up every day and want to do the right thing in extraordinary circumstances. I enjoy the trust created in every encounter and creating environments where everyone can learn from each other, support each other and grow.
There is still a way to go, and more inspiring people to meet.
What does the future hold for you business?
We are expanding our technology to enable rapid assessments of building fabric for net zero planning. Our prediction algorithms are ideally suited to running ‘what if’ scenarios on our Digital Twins of homes. We see we can help investment groups achieve certainty before providing the £100millions needed to improve 27m homes by 2050.
We are partnering more. We have developed our technology and cloud services using the OpenAPI framework. Our plug and play philosophy from the devices delivered to the home, the simplified connectivity to our cloud, through to serving up calculations and models through APIs to third parties, makes it easy to work with some of the largest technology and services companies in the world.
We are partnering with a global communications infrastructure company and a global technology company to deliver housing management and care home management solutions at scale.
Awaretag are one of the organisations you will mehttps://awaretag.com/et in the Startup Village at Connected North 2023, 17 & 18 April at Manchester Central. Find out more at totaltele.com/connectednorth . To learn more about Awaretag, visit awaretag.com