Connected car firm secures £1 million from Innovate UK
Driverless cars are coming whether consumers like it or not, OpenText

Connected car firm secures £1 million from Innovate UK

Connected car start-up Lightfoot has secured a £1 million loan from Innovate UK to bring its driving rewards platform to market later this year.

This is the first award of its kind from the UK’s technology strategy board, whose Innovation Loans scheme provides digital startups with low-interest finance to help them scale up their technologies and business models.

Exeter-based Lightfoot has developed a device that helps users improve their driving technique while reducing fuel costs and mitigating environmental impacts. It believes that its technology portfolio provides a bridge between traditional and autonomous driving.

The new system also offers drivers access to an exclusive rewards programme, via which they can get discounts, perks, and giveaways from a range of partners. However, they can only unlock these if they drive responsibly – which the platform incentivises them to do.

The company said it will use the money to improve its connected car platform in the run-up to launching the products this autumn. It is looking to integrate new intelligence reporting metrics, such as tax records, service alerts, vehicle valuations, mileage tracking, and vehicle health alerts with the new system.

Nationwide release

Mark Roberts, CEO of Lightfoot, said the finance will allow his company to develop the technology and roll it out to drivers across the country. “We’re proud to be the first recipient of an Innovate UK Innovation Loan, and it comes at a hugely exciting period of growth and expansion for the company,” he said.

“Lightfoot has already proven to be a huge success in the UK fleet market and this loan will help us launch the consumer proposition, scale the business, and enter new countries.”

Over the past few years, Lightfoot has developed a close relationship with Innovate UK, and is already the recipient of a three-year grant from the public body.

“This new loan helps Lightfoot build on the grants it has recently won from Innovate UK for R&D projects on car-to-car communication and its potential to be the link between autonomous and manually driven vehicles,” added Roberts.

“These developments will help to smooth the UK’s transition to self-driving cars. In the meantime, Lightfoot will continue to enable drivers to save money, save lives, and save the planet through enabling and rewarding smoother driving.”

Funding innovation

Dr Ruth McKernan, executive chair of Innovate UK, said the new loans give companies the ability to develop innovative, life-changing technologies. “Innovate UK is excited to offer its new Innovation Loans as innovations need different types of funding support, depending on how close they are to market,” she said.

“Getting the right funding at the right time can be game changing for a business, to scale up its productivity and growth.

She added: “Patient, flexible loans help innovations that are near to market, where there is less risk involved, and we look forward to rolling out this scheme further.

“It is fantastic that Lightfoot has won one of these first loans. Now, innovative, ambitious businesses across the UK can see Lightfoot’s trailblazing work in Exeter and the opportunities that Innovation Loans offer to follow in its footsteps.”

Internet of Business says

The use of connected-car technologies to improve human beings’ driving skills by incentivising better on-the-road behaviour is an innovative one, and illustrates some of the less obvious benefits of a connected world.