What would you do with £10,000 funding? As tempting as it might be to spend a quarter of it on a holiday in the Maldives (eyes glaze over as we think about all that white sand and blue sky), if the money comes from The Environment Now, you’ll actually be spending it on saving the planet, through an environmentally-friendly initiative or project (which means you’ll be helping areas like the Maldives without actually visiting there, which is nearly as rewarding, right?).

What is The Environment Now?

The Environment Now is an amazing opportunity from O2’s Think Big that offers funding of up to £10,000 to young people aged 17-24 to find digital solutions to environmental issues. Every project gains excellent expertise and advice from O2 mentors as well as learning valuable skills on insight sessions and work experience days. It’s funded by O2 and the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund through the Our Bright Future programme and is managed by the National Youth Agency.

Why should young people care about the environment anyway?

Lydia Allen, Partnerships and Sustainability Coordinator for The Environment Now programme emphasised the importance of shaping tech that can leave a positive mark on the world. She said: “young people should be excited about saving the planet as new disruptive technology has meant there are many solutions to explore and those under the age of 30 will face the most severe consequences of climate change.” She continued, “as digital natives, young people have savvier digital skills compared to older generations with the chance of solving our biggest problems. With the government’s 25 year plan and the environment in the public eye due to programmes like Blue Planet II, now is the time to innovate with public, business and government support.”

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What has The Environment Now achieved?

The Environment Now launched in November 2016 and has helped 50 young people shine a light on topical, environmental issues using technology such as; mobile applications, motion sensor cameras, coding, drones and virtual and augmented reality and way more. Here are 5 amazing case studies of people who have benefited from some funding!

1.  LettUs Grow @LettUsGrow

You might have read about LettUs Grow (Jack, Charlie and Ben) before in one of our previous articles. They have developed a soil-free automated way of gardening to master urban farming for the future. Last year, they were at London Food Tech Week, rubbing shoulders with the leaders in the food tech industry. Since then, they’ve been pitching to private investors to really accelerate their growth (pun intended). 

2. YellowLabel Tech @YellowLabelTech

Sam, Toma and Richard, the Yellow Label Team, have created an app where users can view which supermarkets have reduced priced food to cut down on supermarket food waste. They’re currently working with the supermarket giants to make this happen. Last year, Yellow Label delivered a pilot testing phase for their app in Leeds City Centre. They’re making alterations to the app at the moment, but keep up to date with them on Facebook  for when they launch the new version!

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3. PocketPals @PocketPalsApp

Dani and Matt are creating PocketPals, an app where people can find, explore and learn about real-world animals and their environments including; what they look like, where they live, endangered status and how important it is for humans to look after their environment. PocketPals are currently working on developing partnerships with different environmental organisations. They want their app to be used at visitor sites to engage more people in wildlife and the threats that they face.

4.  Charged Up @ChargedUpWorld

Hakeem, Hugo and Chris are part of the Charged Up team who are developing a global network of stations where users can borrow portable battery banks, use them for as long as they need, then return them at a station for just a small fee. All chargers are powered by 100% renewable green energy, decreasing the use of non-sustainable energy sources.They’re currently forming partnerships with venues so that the public can start using their product. You could soon pick a charger up from cafes, bars, train stations, sports stadiums, museums tourist attractions…. and more!

5. MATR @MATRPURIFIER

Matt founded MATR, the smartest nano-technology air purifier for your personal space that features a removable air tracker to improve your health. Users are able to track air quality from the removable tracker and app, so that when walks, runs and cycles are planned MATR can avoid pollution hotspots to improve health.” Matt is working on his first usable prototype that he can show to future funders and private investors to spark his future kickstarter campaign.

How to get involved with funding

Want to know more or learn how to get financial support for your own idea? Go Think Big offers up to £500 worth of funding for digital ideas that help the community (these ones don’t necessarily have to be environment-related, FYI, but they can be!). Check the opportunities page regularly for the latest cohort of funding, and be sure to keep up to date with all of our work experience opportunities, too!

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