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Elements Technology

Digital manufacturing startup, Elements Technology, had an idea to use consumer tech in the manufacturing industry but needed industry insight and funding to develop the business and its product. By participating in, and subsequently winning Digital Catapult’s Industry 4.0 Hack and Pitch it has successfully won £250k seed funding, pivoted its business towards order management and built an invaluable network of experts which is helping to make the business a success.

Manufacturing provides fertile ground for the adoption of digital solutions

Whilst scoping high-value manufacturing as a potential market for wearable technology, Joe Handsaker, CEO and Founder of Elements Technology, spotted an opportunity for consumer technologies such as mobile phones to be repurposed to create simple and inexpensive digital products for the manufacturing industry.

His original idea was to use near field communication (NFC) tags to capture and monitor human movement and provide health and safety information to workers.

He founded Elements Technology in January of 2018 and started working on a concept that would allow users to tap a piece of machinery with their phone and receive equipment-specific health and safety information – for example, what personal protective equipment should be worn when using the machinery.

Elements Technology needed investment and industry knowledge to progress

To continue to develop these ideas, Elements Technology needed investment and a way to connect with industry peers and experts, potential customers and investors. It also needed help to navigate the manufacturing industry and tackle the steep learning curve of developing a product for a sector its founder had no prior experience of.

When Joe heard about Digital Catapult’s Industry 4.0 Hack and Pitch he jumped at the opportunity to meet decision makers in manufacturing and also to connect to other UK startups and experts in the industry.

Hack and Pitch provided a great opportunity for Elements Technology to meet potential clients and investors and hone its value proposition.

In January 2018, Digital Catapult ran Industry 4.0, a Hack and Pitch competition in Manchester. The event is designed to inspire and challenge startups and scaleups to identify innovative solutions that can positively disrupt the UK’s manufacturing industry.

The competition was an opportunity for manufacturing giants Rolls-Royce and Unilever, which sponsored the event, to engage directly with exciting new concepts being developed by cutting edge startups such as Elements Technology.

During the two day event, Elements Technology met challenge owners from Rolls-Royce and Unilever and participated in a collaborative workshop which gave deep insight into the challenges the corporations face.

On the second day, the startups were given the opportunity to pitch their ideas privately to a panel of experts and the challenge owners. Elements Technology chose to respond to Rolls-Royce’s challenge: How can IoT and data analytics improve the success of product compliance throughout the high-value components manufacturing process?

A winning idea

Elements Technology took its original idea to use NFC technology but adapted it to provide a simple and effective way to automate the documentation of manufacturing processes. This new idea was to enable users to automatically record their involvement in a manufacturing process by simply tapping an ID tag to a mobile phone or tablet. Its idea was so compelling that Elements Technology won the competition and was given an innovation award by Rolls-Royce.

Following discussions with industry experts in the months following the Hack and Pitch, Elements Technology made the decision to pivot and focus on a different market segment. 98.6% of UK manufacturers are small and medium enterprises, and the vast majority of this market do not have the resources of OEMs. By keeping the cost of technology low, and the complexity of the product simple, it identified that the concept presented at the Hack and Pitch was better suited to smaller companies that require low set up costs and minimal installation.

Securing funding

The Hack and Pitch led to Elements Technology winning £250k of seed funding which will allow the founders to work full-time on the development of the business and hire three additional full-time employees.

Elements Technology gain valuable industry network, expertise and ongoing support

Participating in the Industry 4.0 Hack and Pitch fundamentally changed Elements Technology business. It became market-led, as its involvement helped it to identify an addressable market segment and offer a solution the market was asking for.

The Hack and Pitch helped Elements Technology to rapidly expand its network. Not only meeting decision makers within potential clients such as Rolls-Royce but also meeting other influential industry experts including individuals from The Manufacturers Alliance and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Digital Catapult itself. These connections enabled the creation of an advisory board which is helping Elements Technology to develop its product and hone its pitch.

Nick Wright, Head of Manufacturing Industries, Digital Catapult adds “Elements Technology identified a clear need in manufacturing industries and has pivoted its business to address it. Within a year, it has developed and launched a product and attracted significant investment. One of the privileges of working at Digital Catapult is helping businesses as they are forming. As part of Elements Technology’s advisory board I am looking forward to seeing how its low cost digital solutions will provide value to the industry.”

The connections made at the event continue to benefit Elements Technology, for example, it has been invited to participate in large public bids within the manufacturing sector as a direct result of this network of contacts.

Won Industry 4.0 Hack and Pitch Challenge & Rolls-Royce Innovation Award

Pivoted business, adapting the idea to meet needs of addressable market

Developed relationships with key industry players and experts

Created an advisory board with members from Rolls-Royce, Digital Catapult, The Manufacturers Alliance and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre

Product successfully launched at the Industry 4.0 Summit and Expo just one year later