Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency, has announced that it is running a competition for startups developing the next generation of wearable products to outshine the Apple Watch or Google Glass.

The competition, launched today, will see £210,000 given to the six of what it believes to be the most promising wearable ideas. Each entrant will receive up to £35,000 if they win one of six categories that are being sponsored by large organisations, like Disney and McLaren. 

Disney could be hoping the next Mickey Mouse is a wearable device ©Flickr Katie Harbath
Disney could be hoping the next Mickey Mouse is a wearable device ©Flickr Katie Harbath

They will also receive the opportunity to work with these organisations, who are being tasking with helping to accelerate the development of the wearable devices.

Other organisations that have pledged to lend their support include glh Hotels, Network Rail, Atos and Queen Mary University London.

Innovate UK said the panel of judges will be looking for commercial, creative and technical innovations in areas such as health and fitness trackers, identity and authentication, and new ways to use smart textiles.

Matt Sansam, a programme manager at Innovate UK, said: “Wearables will be making an increasingly big impact across UK industries in the coming year.

“We are looking for ambitious concepts that explore wearable technologies in new ways. The early movers identified in this contest will benefit from partnerships with established industry players, who will help bring their ideas to market.”

The deadline for applications is 10 March 2015. Shortlisted entries will be invited to a live pitch and Q&A with a panel of judges. The final trial launch for successful applicants is scheduled to take place in spring 2016.

The six categories and their respective partners include:

  • Wearables for kids – Disney
  • Sensor technology and tracking performance – McLaren Applied Technologies and Loughborough University
  • Guest centred experience through wearables – glh Hotels
  • Reacting to the local environment – Amey & Network Rail
  • Unlocking accessibility through wearables – Atos
  • Plug-and-play for textile wearables – Queen Mary University London