Consultancy bags six-figure prize to help fund online EV charging platform

Leader of Derbyshire County Council Councillor Barry Lewis (left) and Cabinet Member for Clean Growth and Regeneration Councillor Tony King with one of the council’s electric pool cars

An online platform that will encourage EV usage and car sharing in Derbyshire has been awarded £100,000 funding from Midlands Connect.

Independent research consultancy Cenex, in partnership with Derbyshire County Council, has been announced as the winner of Midlands Connect’s rural mobility competition.

The £100,000 prize will be used to develop the Loughborough-based firm’s proposal for an online Electric Vehicle (EV) charging and car sharing platform.

Once developed, the online platform will allow EV users across Derbyshire to “rent out” their private charge points, giving motorists access to more chargers.

Midlands Connect CEO Maria Machancoses said: “Poor transport connectivity can be a challenge for rural communities, with residents often experiencing worse access to amenities and services such as schools, workplaces or hospitals. Our rural mobility competition was created to address these challenges and create innovative solutions that would enhance transport connectivity in isolated communities.

“It’s great to see how many people have come together to challenge poorer connectivity at our conference today, particularly those from the Department for Transport, senior leaders and decision makers.

“All our finalists for the rural mobility competition produced innovative solutions to tackle rural mobility – picking one winner was very challenging. We would like to congratulate our competition winner Cenex and look forward to seeing the idea developed in further detail.”

Robert Evans, CEO at Cenex, said: “Our digital mobility hub has the potential to change the way Derbyshire residents think about transport. By giving people access to information on services such as car sharing, we can improve transport connectivity and reduce harmful carbon emissions from road transport.

“It also gives residents the chance to make some extra money through renting out their own vehicle – at a time when the cost of living is ever-increasing.

“This platform has the power to accelerate the transition to EVs by opening up access to more charging points locally, especially for people without a driveway who may otherwise find charging difficult.

“We are delighted to be announced as the winners of Midlands Connect’s rural mobility competition and are excited to develop the idea further with Derbyshire County Council.”

Councillor Tony King, Cabinet Member for Clean Growth and Regeneration at Derbyshire County Council, added: “We welcome the support given by Midlands Connect in tackling rural connectivity, something that many counties across the Midlands are challenged with.

“Lower population density often leads to patchy public transport in rural areas and for people without access to a car, this can lead to isolation. The platform proposed by Cenex has the potential to change our residents’ lives – particularly those who do not have their own vehicle or share with other members of their household, as well as those considering switching to an electric vehicle.

“Whether it’s a student going to college, an elderly person attending a medical appointment or someone just trying to get to work – this platform has the potential to do so much for Derbyshire residents and we are thankful for the opportunity given to us by Midlands Connect. We’re looking forward to developing the platform even further with Cenex until it is ready for roll-out.”

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