‘Google maps for cemeteries’ wins top NI award
Invent 2014 showcases best prototypes and gadgets
Celebrating the Invent 2014 awards are winner Sean McAllister of Plotbox, awards sponsor, Julie Ann O’Hare, director of Business Banking, at Bank of Ireland UK and Leona McAllister of Plotbox.
A County Antrim husband and wife team who developed software that has been described as “Google maps for cemeteries” have beaten 100 of the brightest innovations in the North to be tipped as the next big thing in Northern Ireland.
Sean and Leona McAllister from Portglenone have devised a cloud platform, Plotbox, to help cemeteries and crematoria manage the particular requirements of the death industry.
On Thursday night in Belfast their break-through software helped them win one of the North’s top hi-tech start up accolades – the Northern Ireland Science Park’s Invent 2014 award.
The awards attract the most exciting innovators and young entrepreneurs in the North and are designed to showcase the best prototypes and gadgets which also have the most potential commercial success.
The McAllisters, who have a background in engineering and surveying, came up with the idea for their software when they were asked to do a cemetery map for a local cemetery.
Sean McAllister said they realised then what problems the industry has to deal with on a day to basis from information flow to burial site allocations and management of data.
Mr McAllister said: “The systems they use may be on paper, some of them may be on Excel, some of them may not even exist. What we recognised was that if you wanted to go down to a cemetery and find a burial or find some information you ended up going looking through loads of different places - it is not really an effective way of doing it.
“What we try to do with Plotbox is take those operations and bring them into the one place – it makes it a lot easier and saves money as well.”
The McAllisters hope to expand their business to the UK and Republic of Ireland next and ultimately the United States.
Leona McAllister said: “Larger scale cemeteries are essentially big business in the US alone the death industry is estimated at $20 billion annually.”
Plotbox last night won the overall prize but the five other category winners in the Invent 2014 awards which included Inlifesize, Green Sword, See.Sense, Vaccine Tabs and Microbial Nematicides will also share the overall £33,000 prize fund.
All six businesses will take part in a hi-tech mission to the US later this year.