Piaggio Fast Forward: Exploring “pedestrianism”

We explored who, in the space of innovation on mobility, is driving disruptive conversation, asking where extreme innovation, based on data, sustainability, technology, meets empathy, human needs and return on society?



We have focused our attention on scouting innovative virtuous models built on logic, process, and technology, to not so much reinvent the wheel if not needed but adapt these more for the needs of the care sector. Delivery of service of course is key, but even more crucial is the sustainability of the service for the economy, society, citizens, and operators alike. In our journey in search of innovation we explore and stimulate hybrid business models, public-private partnerships, and interactions between business and volunteering to maximise opportunities for our future older adults. Flexibility, adaptability, and agility are key characteristics we will need in a stressful world and it is here that we need to unite technology and data with humanity to shape a new breed of service. By stimulating and promoting the partnership with onHand and Newcastle Building Society, we have created a novel approach to the betterment of care provision that merges volunteering with business.

The onHand app links volunteers with those seeking help, for example, with shopping, picking up prescriptions, and even companionship calls – with help available to either those making the request or someone they know. Volunteers pick up tasks through the app via their mobile.

Back in January 2020 we invited the onHand team to visit Newcastle discussing the idea of bringing their service to the North East involving the members of VOICE as testers and validators. What attracted us about the onHand solution was its outstanding mobile-first application, a well deployed and designed app following industrial standards and features, not an easy quality to find in charity-like type of solutions (including an embedded DBS ch

eck to validate volunteers’ profile and a fintech-like dashboard to monitor every single mission, just to mention a couple of features). What we challenged onHand about – besides validating the market response in a different region, very different from London – was their original business model. Together with the 2020 Entrepreneur for Good Award winner and onHand founder Sanjay Lobo and team we discussed about alternatives to a fee-per-user based model exploring corporate sustainability models.

As a Hub of Innovation, while in discussion for other opportunities with the Newcastle Building Society – we decided to connect the two organisations to see if they were interested in exploring together a CSR-based model to bring the service to Newcastle, involving NBS employees to also serve as volunteers. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the decisions, and under our orchestration the Newcastle Building Society endorsed OnHand as a featured service for the community and their employees. By mid-year we launched the operations for the pilot phase in Newcastle, involving public organisations such as Newcastle City Council to observe the outcomes in order to take advantage of a support network that potentially (and partially) could ensure the City is at the forefront of volunteering support to citizens, allowing them to focus other services on those with different needs.

The volunteers have been fantastic and lots got done. I sat outside whilst they were here, it was lovely to have some company and chat. I’ve been completely isolated for most of the last few months, so it really cheered my spirits.” Julie – one of Newcastle’s pilot participants