Graduate’s cycling app attracts global interest

A University of Sussex graduate’s has received an honourable mention after being shortlisted for the Global Grad Show Progress Prize for his cycling app.

Product design student Jake Thompson’s app uses cyclist generated data with the aim to improve road infrastructure.

The bike light Flare has three buttons which cyclists can use to flag up problems along their route including potholes, close pass points and dangerous junctions.

It has received enquiries from interested parties in Australia, USA, Japan and Belgium including cyclists keen to launch it in their area, local authorities asking about the possibility of a pilot scheme, motorcyclists who asked for a similar device to be designed specifically for motorbikes and news organisations reporting on the project.

The 24-year-old was just one of 32 students from seven UK universities invited to attend the Global Grad Show in Dubai last week.

He said: “The opportunity to attend the Global Grad Show was just so incredibly exciting and to be shortlisted and then to receive an honourable mention is just out of this world.

“It was a great opportunity to meet graduates from around the world and learn more about their highly progressive design and an ideal opportunity to connect with potential partners for the development of Flare Cycling.

“Flare presents an opportunity to influence the design and quality of our growing cities’ infrastructure by focussing on political will, funding and data.

“Flare aims to make active transport a realistic choice for more people, and to improve congestion and pollution issues alongside our individual physical and mental wellbeing.”

After completing his Product Design degree at the University of Sussex this summer, Thompson and nine course counterparts attended New Designers London 2018 where Flare Cycling was selected as one of the ‘Top Five Ones to Watch’ by Sarah Weir, CEO of the Design Council.

Flare was also shortlisted for the Creative Conscience Award in September and was recently presented with the Sean Morley Memorial Award and Best Road Safety Product Award at the Houses of Parliament by road safety charity Airso.

Thompson has been working on a further iteration of the mobile app to test with cyclists, having received help and support from the University of Sussex’s own business incubator the Sussex Innovation Centre, and is in continued discussion with product development teams to produce 50 devices for a pilot scheme in the UK.

He said: “I’m really pleased with the scale of the positive response to Flare since it launched, it has vindicated a lot of the work that I did on my course in establishing the product.

“Now I’m really keen to find the right partners or private investors that can help bring Flare to market as soon as possible.

“The research released by Sustrans highlighting the poor quality of the UK’s cycling network only goes to show that there’s still a long way to go and I believe Flare could play a big role in helping to really improve the current infrastructure by getting accurate and relevant data on the biggest problems facing cyclists to local authorities in real time.”

Earlier this month, Sustrans launched its first review of the National Cycle Network after it found that only 54 per cent is currently suitable for a 12-year-old to use safely.

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