CW Unplugged: Tech for Earth

Brought to you by Cambridge Wireless

CW Unplugged is back for 2019 bringing you Tech for the Environment. This year we're exploring the four elements, our second event is Tech for Earth.

Registration for this event is now closed.

About the event

CW Unplugged Hero Earth

This is the second of four events as part of the 2019 CW Unplugged: Tech for the Environment series. CW are proud to be making our contribution to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals through our events and partnerships with companies that will help deliver the 2030 Global Goals Agenda. 


In partnership with Arm, UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP - WCMC) and the Centre for Global Equality (CGE), we're hosting CW Unplugged: Tech for Earth an event that explores innovative technologies contributing to tackling agriculture in developing and emerging economies.

Plant life provides 80% of the human diet. Forests account for 30% of the earth’s surface, providing vital habitats for millions of species and important sources for clean air and water. Due to climate change and deforestation, today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation and loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate. Drought and desertification is also on the rise each year, contributing to the loss of 12 million hectares and affects poor communities globally (UNDP).

This land degradation affects the 500 million small holder farmers globally, but is a particular challenge for farmers in developing countries. Better access to agricultural technologies, education and resources could revolutionise farming practices and provide increased yields, promote biodiversity and improve livelihoods.

This event will showcase two groups developing novel, affordable, appropriate soil monitoring technologies.

  • InfoSoils

Bringing together impact investors, designers, engineers, we'll help create solutions to specific challenges currently faced by startup ventures working on Tech for Earth. Check out the challenges in the agenda below.

We would like to invite you to register your interest by clicking 'reserve a place' and we will reply back to confirm (within a week).

You can follow @CambWireless on Twitter and tweet about this event using #CWUnplugged.

Startup Challenges: eCO-SENSE

eCO-SENSE creates simple, affordable, low-power soil monitoring sensors for farmers in developing countries. The sensor can monitor the pH, temperature, humidity and salinity of soil. The sensors are powered using a biophotovoltaic cell (BPV) that generates electricity from the growth of algae or plants (photosynthetic organisms). Our aim is to enable better crop management and higher yields for farmers in developing economies, by using a sustainable and context-appropriate power supply. See our challenge questions in the agenda below.

Startup Challenges: InfoSoils

Infosoils map soil fertility on a regional scale using Mid-Infrared, X-ray scanning, and Landsat satellite data to extrapolate local data to a sub-national dataset that can provide live soil information at a 30m resolution. Satellite data can be used to infer many soil properties including the concentration of soil organic carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in the topsoil. When collected over a 15-day timestep, soil fertility data can be collected to support farmers in fertiliser and crop management decisions. InfoSoils next steps will be to conduct tests using Mid-infrared and X-ray technology that is locally available to provide ground level data which will feed into, and combine with, satellite data of Mid-infrared and x-ray spectra to create valuable, useable data for small holder farmers. Despite this available technology and data, difficulties arise in how the data is presented to farmers. Testing methods and datasets are often not trusted by farmers due to previous technological experiences, difficulty understanding and accessing data, or because of an inability to act upon the data to make changes to farming processes. See our challenge questions in the agenda below.

Series Sponsor Arm

Arm technology is at the heart of a computing and connectivity revolution that is transforming the way people live and businesses operate. Our advanced, energy-efficient processor designs have enabled intelligent computing in more than 125 billion chips. Over 70 percent of the world’s population are using Arm technology, which is securely powering products from the sensor to the smartphone to the supercomputer. Arm is committed to ensuring our work helps meet the United Nations Global Goals. Through our international partner ecosystem and philanthropic collaborations, we’re enabling technology to deliver the 2030 Global Goals agenda.

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Series Partner UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre

UNEP-WCMC confronts the challenges faced by our world's biodiversity.

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Event Partner Centre for Global Equality

The Centre for Global Equality (CGE) evolves innovative solutions to global challenges. Our aim is to solve problems that undermine the wellbeing of the poorer half of the world’s population. Focusing on people who live on less than $3 a day, we facilitate collaboration between business, academia and civil society, drawing particularly on capacity in one of the world’s leading universities and companies in the Cambridge Cluster - the most successful entrepreneurial ecosystem in Europe.

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Sponsored by u-blox UK

As a global leader in wireless communication and positioning, our products and services are used by billions of people every day. And with this great power comes great responsibility, which is why we are always looking for ways to ensure that every part of our operations is run as sustainably as possible. We take great care to maintain a sustainable business model that looks after the interests of our customers, shareholders, the environment and the communities we operate in. Underpinning this aim are our five pillars of corporate social responsibility.

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Event facilitator Fresh Perspectiv

Our team of commercially-minded scientists love working at the intersection of science and business strategy to help companies to make informed decisions and enhance their commercial impact.

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Event facilitator Cambridge Consultants

The deep tech powerhouse of Capgemini

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Event facilitator Plextek

Plextek's technology specialists can solve your hardest challenges in smart sensing, advanced communications & intelligent data insight. Our people provide solutions to give you the market edge.

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The information supplied below may be subject to change before the event.


Arrival, registration and networking


CW Unplugged Introduction: Abhi Naha, CCO, CW


Tech for Earth: Fran Baker - Sustainability Manager, Arm

Arm will be sharing 2 perspectives on technology for earth:
1. Key insights into the 2030Vision report on AI and the Global Goals (launching at 'CogX Festival of AI' in June) sharing highlights from the sector's deep dive on tech for agriculture and food production.
2. Key insights into one of Arm’s technology for conservation partnerships in Kenya.


Understanding the impact of agriculture on the environment: Dr Naomi Kingston – Head of Programmes, UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre

Today, land degradation caused by unsustainable agricultural practices is the biggest threat to both biodiversity and ecosystem services. Improving identification and monitoring of these threats is therefore crucial for the future of our planet. Knowing this, are there ways in which we can improve existing data, harness other relevant data and bring them together to advance the conservation and tech sector’s understanding of agricultural pressure on the environment?


Startup Challenge: eCO-SENSE


We are presently working with partners in southern India. Our long term aim is for our technology to be accessible and affordable for end-users – farmers in developing countries. The income of farmers in rural India is rarely documented and, dependent on state and location, is vastly varied across the country. Therefore, we have experienced difficulties in assessing the average income of farmers. This means that deciding upon a reasonable market value price for our technology has proved challenging. How can we price our product accordingly in such a large and economically varied country?

With a power output of roughly 30mW per m2, we would like to understand the feasible amount of land we can monitor with our technology to provide adequate data coverage. For instance, if we have 1 hectare of land, how many eCO-SENSE data points should be installed?


Startup Challenge: InfoSoils


Having identified these issues, we plan to work with small holder farmers in Kenya to better understand how to present and tailor data in such a way that it is useful to farmers. Building upon this the project we will research with farmers to understand the business case and value proposition for generating and distributing data to farmers to ensure long term sustainability for InfoSoils.

What is the value proposition for providing data to farmers in Kenya

How can data be made accessible and useful to farmers in Kenya


Intro to the Ideation workshop facilitators

We'll split into groups and intro you to your group leader before a quick break to refuel.




Ideation Workshop

A fast paced hour of brainstorming discussing the challenges Tech for Water faces. Attendees have the opportunity to contribute their ideas and experiences in facilitated groups ran by our partners.


Workshop Presentations

Informal presentations and discussion of the main outcomes from each Ideation group.


Next Steps


Join us in the atrium for food, drink & networking


Event Close


Fran Baker - Director of Sustainability & Social Impact, Arm

Fran leads Arm’s work on projects and programmes designed to deliver technology solutions that can help address global sustainability issues, creating opportunities that deliver social impact at scale. This includes leading Arm’s social innovation partnerships, from supporting entrepreneurial start-up projects, through to managing Arm’s global partnership with UNICEF and their Office of Innovation. Fran also supported the development of new Arm-founded initiatives such as 2030Vision, a partnership between business, academia, governments and NGOs designed to drive technology innovation across the UN’s Global Goals. Before joining Arm, Fran has worked in consultancy, communications and the charity sector, specialising in international development.

Naomi Kingston - Head of Programmes, UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre

Naomi leads UNEP-WCMC’s work on protected and conserved areas, the marine environment, and knowledge management.  This includes delivering high-quality, relevant information on the natural world to decision makers at all levels, as well as strengthening the knowledge base for national environmental policies and tracking global targets. Before joining UNEP-WCMC Naomi worked for 10 years as Biodiversity Informatics Manager for the Irish Government. She has also worked in academia and consultancy, and has a PhD in Conservation Biology.

Abhi Naha - Digital Accelerator Director, PwC UK

Abhi Naha is the Digital Accelerator Director at PwC. He is creating and leading a new tech division for PwC. The Digital Accelerator solves innovation challenges using the power of scale ups and ecosystems for greater insights, impact and value creation.

Abhi was the CCO of CW Cambridge Wireless and CEO of the Product as a Service Consortium. At CW, Abhi initiated and lead on the 5G private network testbed in Cambridge, corporate digital innovation accelerators and high value collaborations.

Abhi was the CEO and Founder of Zone V a Cambridge start up backed by Qualcomm and ARM focused on empowering people with aging eyes and visually impairment through inclusively designed smartphone software. He held senior roles at Powermat, San Jose based Synaptics and advisory roles for Goldman Sachs and Silver Lake in the area of mobile user interface technologies. Abhi is a senior advisor to an autonomous vehicle mobility scale up Conigital, Industry Partner (Digital Infrastructure) for Arjun Infrastructure Partners with 5 Billion Euros of assets under management and an Ambassador for the United Nations Global Sustainability Index Institute. Abhi studied Electronics and Electrical Engineering, has an MBA in International Marketing and authored a book on Mobile Handset Design when approached by Cambridge University Press. More recently Abhi has created an initiative to help train widows in developing countries learn python programming, gain financial empowerment and become future leaders.

Event Location

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Location info

The Bradfield Centre, 184 Cambridge Science Park Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 0GA

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