BOOP secures Government COVID-19 response funding
An innovative Northern Ireland software education platform for children with special education needs (SEN) has secured a slice of £20m Government funding to support communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.
BOOP, which is owned by Limejar, aims to improve learning outcomes for children who have additional educational needs. It beat off competition from 8600 entrants to secure a grant of £50,000 – the maximum amount available – to bring the product to market as soon as possible to help SEN families to navigate remote learning during the pandemic and its aftermath.
“After my son was diagnosed with autism, I’ve been looking at ways to remove the barriers to learning that children with additional educational needs experience. I’m using my skills as software developer to create a solution that will enable SEN children to continue to learn during this pandemic and to close the learning gap between mainstream learning and additional needs. BOOP brings together the key people involved in a child’s care and development, so their parents, teachers and therapists can work together as a team and enable that child to reach their full potential,” explains Debbie Craig, owner of Limejar and creator of BOOP.
UK registered businesses were able to apply for up to £50,000 from a £20 million response fund for the urgent needs in UK and global communities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Distributed by Innovate UK, the aim of the funding is to support UK businesses to focus on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries during and following the COVID-19 pandemic, while making the UK more resilient to similar disruption.
“As a result of the pandemic, SEN children and their families have experienced unprecedented challenges. Autistic children especially struggle to cope with changes to their routine and this has led to increased levels of anxiety during lockdown. Families have been left in limbo. Teachers require better resources to support their students remotely – ones that are better suited to the specific needs of these individuals. Other key people such as therapists and health workers are also distanced and therefore can’t actively support families when they’re most needed. We’ve had first hand experience of this,” explains Debbie Craig.
BOOP is an easy to use platform with everything in one place. It provides the necessary consistency while keeping track of development. The key to BOOP’s innovation is how resources are presented in an intuitive and easy to use format and how all aspects are interlinked. It reduces the need for multiple apps by providing the key features and strategies in one place. Applicants to the COVID-19 response fund had to demonstrate both realistic and significant benefits for society, including communities, families and individuals, or an industry that has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible projects have to start in June 2020 and run for no longer than six months in duration. At the end of the six months, successful projects that demonstrate the potential for real impact will be able to apply for follow-on funding.
Almost in parallel, BOOP has been shortlisted for an INVENT 2020 award, an annual competition in Northern Ireland to find the most innovative ideas that have the greatest commercial potential. Out of 100 entrants, BOOP is one of only two companies shortlisted in the Creative Media and Consumer Internet category. Award winners will be announced on 8 October 2020.