BISHOP Auckland-based FarmWatcherUK was launched in February 2014 by Andrea Stephenson after her brother had his quad bike stolen and a thief stole 30 sheep from a neighbouring farm.
Andrea, who hails from a farming background, set up the online community to enable those who live and work in rural areas to raise awareness of rural crime. And her scheme has grown and grown.
Today, FarmWatcherUK has 23,000 likes on Facebook and more than 5,000 Twitter followers. Andrea gets her information from the farmers themselves, from the police across the UK and from monitoring public websites
She is currently developing a smartphone App, which will use satellite GPS technology to notify farmers if there has been a crime in their area.
And, having noticed that horse crime was a major issue in rural areas, she also identified a need for an equine tracker – a tracker which uses GPS technology to keep a tag on people’s horses and notify owners if their horse leaves its field or stables.
Andrea entered the equine tracker idea in last year’s European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC), the Copernicus Masters, and came runner up. She is currently working on a prototype with plans to bring it to market thereafter with support from the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence, based at NETPark, Sedgefield.
Said Andrea: “We’re an SME developing new products and services underpinned by satellite GPS technology into a global market place from right here in the North East. The support provided by the Catapult and North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence is allowing us to accelerate our journey to commercialising new products and services.
“There are certainly opportunities for anyone with an innovative idea and there is always an opportunity to connect to buyers on a global scale. It doesn’t matter where you are based and how advanced your firm is, you can be of any stage of your business journey. If you have the innovation, desire and energy then the satellite sector has space for you.”