ProctorExam shortlisted as “top 15 solution” for sustainability by Impact Nation

Initiated by ABN AMRO to help SMEs identify their biggest sustainability challenges, Impact Nation scouts and implements suitable solutions. Our team sat with co-founder Menno van Leeuwen and Innovation Project Manager at TNW Nivida Lamichhane to hear more about the initiative.

What is Impact Nation?

Co-founder Menno van Leeuwen told us, “We’re there to help with the practical side of making businesses more sustainable, the nitty-gritty as it were. We start with a mid-sized company who has a sustainability challenge, for instance a high carbon footprint. They perhaps use a lot of energy consumption and need to decrease it. We look at what’s out there. Often there’s too much to choose from, and it’s hard to differentiate. We match the company with the right fit for their situation and requirements.”

Innovation Project Manager at The Next Web (TNW) Nivida Lamichhane adds, “We run workshops with companies to examine this in closer detail. They’re designed to be both educational and fun: using a range of activities and lots of colourful sticky notes, we adopt a playful way to unlock ideas. In particular, we focus on three different domains: circular, climate, and social. We have a team at The Next Web and Impact Hub that research the very best companies out there who are solving sustainability issues, and we matchmake or set them up with those looking for those solutions.

“By forging relationships with providers, companies like ProctorExam, that offer the best solutions, we help businesses set up pilot schemes and road test these solutions.”

Menno explained, “It’s a community: an online community of solution seekers and providers. We bring together in one place companies with challenges and companies with solutions.” 

Why ProctorExam?

Nivida said, “ProctorExam's involvement in OP4RE project and its collaboration with major European institutions to set standards for online proctoring was something that really caught our attention. ProctorExam met all our criteria for the inclusion and accessibility category. We’ve been especially impressed with your ambition and scaling so far, the way you’ve worked with universities and institutes to help make education and training more widely available, in particular since Covid restrictions came into force.”

Simplicity and ease

Design was a key criterion: the simplicity and ease of using ProctorExam. Using a range of separate software to allow a webcam and the smartphone camera to work in tandem, ProctorExam provides the first 360-degree monitoring solution. Our platform is fully web-based and users can customise it to suit their own particular needs, whether that’s live or automated proctoring.

Menno said, “From what I've seen it certainly looks like it's very easy to setup for the actual user on the ground, that's what struck me. You don't need very much technology; you don't need much more than what you've got already: your laptop and your mobile phone.

“We also liked the elements of inclusive design. The temptation for designers is to offer too much functionality when what users want and require is something streamlined and pared down. The customer doesn’t have a lot of time or perhaps the inclination or know-how, so you have to make it as simple as possible, and that's a very tough design challenge. I see this as a key strength of ProctorExam, especially with particular target groups.” 

Social inclusion and diversity – where future profitable business models lie

Menno said, “We want to help companies with their social impact challenges and showcase how you really get something concrete out of this. It’s where future profitable business models lie; it's not only for social responsibility purposes. Extensive research shows that companies who are more inclusive outperform those who aren't. They’re more innovative because they’re more diverse. And that innovativeness gives them the edge. They’re more profitable.”

Nivida added, “I think from the research side, social inclusion is quite a tough cookie: for many, the topic has only become a prominent concern in the last year or so. A lot of companies are working hard to catch up, but it’s difficult to find them providers with a proven track record.” 

The future of work

Evolving all the time as a sustainable solution, ProctorExam opens up learning to those who may have found it inaccessible. They are then able to fulfil their true potential in education and, later on, the business world. We’re aiming for a broad appeal, working with corporates such PricewaterhouseCoopers and institutions such as NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences, which successfully conducted 16,000 exams during the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

In the future, when the world establishes the next “new normal”, we hope that ProctorExam will ensure greater opportunities for those who have got less access to college due particular learning needs.  

How to get things done? Include everyone.

When moderating a panel at the Amsterdam Fintech Week, Menno talked about those who are “underserved”, summing up his philosophy: “How did it get done? Include everyone.”

He said, “We’re proud to be working with companies who want to include everyone. We’re in talks with governmental departments who are looking at vulnerable groups to better engage with the world of work and education. Impact Nation wants to help those who are underserved, the vulnerable.”

Impact Nation cited other examples, such as Hable’s Braille keypads, which make smartphone devices more accessible to the visually impaired, and SpeakSee auto captions which help the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Both use inclusive design to ensure everyone has equal access to technology and innovation.

Nivida said, “I’m a big fan of She Matters, which helps women entering the Dutch labour market – refugees fleeing conflict abroad, for example – whose skills in business, engineering, architecture, or IT would otherwise go to waste. These initiatives are making a very real, concrete difference on the ground.”