Cancer Research UK unveils 'smart benches' in London

Cancer Research UK has joined forces with smart city business Strawberry Energy and agency MKTG to launch a network of smart benches with contactless technology.

Cancer Research UK: smart benches showcase technology
Cancer Research UK: smart benches showcase technology

Ten benches were unveiled yesterday (1 February) across two London boroughs - Islington and Lewisham, to tie in with World Cancer Day, which takes place on 4 February. The solar-powered benches enhance public spaces by providing mobile device charging ports and free wi-fi access, as well as a place to sit and socialise. 

Strawberry Energy has been working exclusively with Urban Partnerships, a division of MKTG which delivers projects within the public space that are mutually beneficial for both brands and non-profit organisations. In the world’s first use of contactless payment on the Smart Bench, the public can also donate £2 to the Cancer Research UK’s life-saving research to beat cancer sooner, by tapping their contactless debit or credit card on the Smart Bench. 

Cancer Research UK is the first brand to partner on the Smart Bench scheme in Islington and Lewisham. The sites were identified as high-footfall locations by MKTG and feature a number of contactless payment locations including Islington Green and Lewisham High Street. Following the pilot a further 10 will be installed by the end of February, with an additional 80 to be installed this year.

Michael Docherty, director of digital at Cancer Research UK, said: "Having used contactless technology in innovative ways in the past to engage the public in the work we do, we are always looking for new opportunities to incorporate contactless technology further throughout the charity and make it even easier for our supporters to help us beat cancer sooner. These Smart Benches seemed like the next step in our use of contactless technology to bring charitable giving closer to our supporters, integrating it seamlessly into cutting-edge street furniture."

Michael Brown, managing director at MKTG, added: "The Smart Cities economy is going to be worth an estimated £400bn by 2020, and UK industry is targeting 10% of that – which is twice the value of what the entire UK advertising sector was worth in 2016. We here at MKTG are delighted to be partnering with Strawberry Media to pioneer in this space, and as experience designers we are looking forward to further helping smart city entrepreneurs to enhance the experience of city life."

In July, Cancer Research UK unveiled a virtual reality garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. The charity also teamed up with department store Liberty London last year to host a late-night shopping event. 

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