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Illustration of newspaper front cover, with 'The Good News #21' written on it, on a blue background.
September, 2020

The Good News #21

Fire up the kettle, we’re back in the office! Here are the stories from the world of tech, creativity and innovation that we’ve been discussing around the pool table this week.

The Social Connections Challenge

 Men’s health charity Movember has launched The Social Connections Challenge, a £1.86 million call out for innovative digital and tech ideas addressing the mental health challenges that stem from social isolation.

Through crowdsourcing, the project aims to find and develop ideas for new digital or technology initiatives that maintain or strengthen social connections and address isolation in groups of at-risk men.

Movember will shortlist as many as 75 ideas across the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand before up to five projects are selected for a co-development investment of between £52,500-£131,600.

Why now you may ask? In May of this year, Movember ran a global survey, in which nearly a quarter of men across the world (23%) reported that their mental health had worsened in the first six weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, while almost a third of men (30%) noted increased feelings of loneliness with the highest percentage (71%) among young men aged 18-29 years.

Movember Global Director of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Brendan Maher, said “In addition to funding, being part of the Social Connections Challenge includes support and expertise from the Movember team in order to maximise potential and impact. We test, learn and find out exactly what works for men, so that the most promising programs can be scaled to reach more men, more quickly. Finding ideas that have been started in the community and are showing promise is a really exciting opportunity.”

An amazing initiative that will not only help to further exciting developments in innovation and technology but will also have a positive impact for those struggling with their mental health all over the world.

Image of IPhone held in man's  left hand. On the screen of the IPhone is a bearded man looking dismayed and text reading 'Technology may fail you. Make sure your words don't.'

Flying Taxis

 No, we haven’t confused Harry Potter with real life again, electric flying taxis really are being developed in the UK! The vehicle has been fine-tuned with Formula 1 technology and carbon fibre to boost the speed and agility of the 150 mile per hour aircraft.

The VA-1X (catchy name) revealed by Bristol-based developers Vertical Aerospace could potentially shuttle passengers between central London and Brighton in as little as 30 minutes within the next four years.

It was designed with the assistance of a team of 20 ex-F1 engineers with experience at racing teams McLaren, Lotus, Force India and Jordan. The group have used their racing expertise to shave weight from their aircraft and brought in technology inspired by electric motors built for F1 cars.

The aircraft features a hybrid design of helicopter and light aircraft with wings and four rotatable propeller blades. These can fly the aircraft forward like a regular plane, or flip into a horizontal position to allow it to hover and take off vertically. The company expects to finish a prototype by September 2021.

It might sound like something from a James Bond film but such transport have also been pitched as an eco-friendly alternative to private jets or helicopters, not to mention they’d cut down some of the traffic in the city! It won’t be cheap though, the five-seater, 15-meter wingspan aircraft will have a range of around 100 miles. Flights are expected to cost around £5 to £10 per passenger mile, meaning a 100 mile flight would cost a passenger £500 to £1,000.

Of course, the VA-1X is still in development. A prototype is planned for next year, although it is not expected to be ready for passengers until 2024. Vertical Aerospace is seeking around £150m in funding for its plans. Will you be hopping in the airborne cab when it launches?

Illustration of Vertical Engineering's flying taxi flying over London at night.

IKEA and LEGO

IKEA and LEGO have joined forced to create a playful storage solution called BYGGLEK. The BYGGLEK collection consists of a series of storage boxes with LEGO studs and a special LEGO brick set. It’s aims? To encourage play and infuse more fun into storage around the home.

Play is one of the most intuitive ways to learn and grow however as we get older, we tend to pack the toys away in favour of more structure and organisation. Instead of disrupting kids play to get them to tidy up their toys, the BYGGLEK collection hopes to create a storage solution that offers a more playful experience. As the BYGGLEK boxes are equipped with LEGO studs on the top and the front, kids can integrate the storage boxes as part of their LEGO builds. They can store their stories inside them, and proudly display their creations on top of them.

Andreas Fredriksson, designer at IKEA of Sweden explained “Where adults often see mess, children see a stimulating creative environment, and BYGGLEK will help bridge the gap between these two views to ensure more creative play in homes around the world. Plus, the BYGGLEK collection match perfectly with other IKEA products, making it possible to have your children’s creativity becoming a nice and unique piece of decoration at home.”

The collection might be intended for children, but we wouldn’t mind picking up some boxes for the office.

Image of IKEA's collaboration with LEGO. A white box containing multicoloured LEGO blocks and men, on a wooden table with a glass on the left hand side.

Earlier this year, we helped our client, cloud software company Nutanix, to find a way of delivering its CXO Focus Masterclass events at a time when hosting physical events is not an option, settle in and read about the second topic, Authentic Leadership.