On the 21st of April, the United Nations celebrates World Creativity and Innovation Day, which exists to raise awareness of the role of creativity and innovation in human development – with particular regard to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.
These Sustainable Development Goals provide a blueprint for addressing global challenges, including poverty, education, inequality, peace and sustainability. The United Nations has previously underlined the importance of SMEs in achieving these Sustainable Development Goals, chiefly in promoting innovation and creativity.
The North East has a rich history of working creatively and innovatively to solve real world problems. In more distant history, Shields-born William Wouldhave is widely recognised as the inventor of the lifeboat. More recently, the work of P&G’s Phil Souter in inventing the Purifier of Water has brought clean water to millions of people.
Technology is now at the forefront of creativity and innovation: our industry looks at the world differently and generates ideas which solve real problems whilst also creating momentum for expanding opportunities, and sustainably growing the local economy. Tech is therefore essential to our continued work towards a more sustainable and equal future for all.
Through creativity and innovation, North East tech companies play a part in our steps towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We’ve highlighted some of the organisations which are doing creative and innovative work towards solving global problems.
SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing – BIOSIGNATURES
A range of healthtech and biotech companies work across the North East, undertaking innovative work to promote health and wellbeing. Biosignatures, an AI Cloud software company, transforms people’s wellbeing by diagnosing diseases early and providing insights into a range of conditions. By using just a drop of blood, Biosignatures empowers individuals with the information to make informed decisions to achieve healthier lives. Biosignature’s vision is to build a “Universal Health Screen”, which would prove pivotal for global health and wellbeing.
SDG 4: Quality Education – ENDOXA LEARNING
There are several regional edtech companies with missions focused on improving education, in line with the Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education. Endoxa Learning provides a platform to help students make strong, coherent arguments at school, helping young people get good marks and progress to the next stage of their education, or start a career. The software visualises academic arguments on a graphic interface in order to help accelerate the student’s learning and is used particularly for subjects such as social sciences and humanities.
SDG 5: Gender Equality – 50:50 FUTURE
Whilst not strictly a tech company, 50:50 Future work towards gender equality within the tech community. The founders of 50:50 Future used their backgrounds in the tech community to plug the inclusion and diversity gap within the sector, promoting the Sustainable Development Goal of empowering women. 50:50 Future aims to achieve gender equality in the workplace and promote inclusive communities, by building online resources, and delivering support and education, alongside consulting on bespoke diversity and inclusion solutions.
SDG 8: Work and Economic Growth – BALTIC APPRENTICESHIPS
Baltic Apprenticeships, headquartered in Newton Aycliffe, offers a “tech-focused, tech driven training solution.” Through supporting businesses that are taking on apprentices, Baltic opens doors into the tech industry for young people across the region. Like the Sustainable Development Goals, Baltic’s vision is future oriented: a vision which shines through in its shaping of the tech landscape and contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal of promoting full and productive work.
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – NOMAD DIGITAL
If you’ve ever used WiFi on a train, it could be thanks to Nomad Digital. This tech company, headquartered in Newcastle, supports innovation and strong infrastructure through providing IP Connectivity to the transport sector. Nomad Digital’s passenger and fleet-management solutions help improve connectivity, thereby supporting the Sustainable Development Goal of promoting inclusive and resilient infrastructure.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities – SPECIAL iAPPS
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals highlight how children and disabled people are amongst the most vulnerable (and particularly hard-hit by the pandemic). Special iApps creates apps designed specifically for children with special educational needs, including autism and Down syndrome. By making apps accessible for children regardless of their developmental stage, Special iApps can help all children to reach their full potential, reducing inequalities.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities – GRID SMARTER CITIES
As continued urbanisation occurs around the world, cities have to adapt to accommodate the diverse range of people living within them. Grid Smarter Cities aims to better the lives of those living in cities, through “enabling smarter, cost-efficient services.” These services help cities progress to more sustainable revenues, alongside resilient and inclusive social, economic and environmental outcomes.
SDG 14: Life Below Water – ARMATUS OCEANIC
Although the reduction in human activity brought about by the pandemic has given oceans a small chance to recuperate, marine environments are still threatened by acidification, unsustainable fishing, and more. Armatus Oceanic help us understand life below the water, particularly the deep sea, through scientific research and exploration. Armatus’s work raises awareness of the importance of sustainable use of our oceans, both through the Deep Sea Podcast which discusses issues such as human impact on the deep sea, and through Armatus’s research, including its discovery of “high levels of pollution and micro-plastic ingestion at the deepest places on Earth”.