Young entrepreneurs compete for Mayor’s £20,000 green business prize

13 March 2015

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, welcomed some of London’s brightest young minds to City Hall this morning to battle it out in a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style contest for the chance to win £20,000 to launch their low carbon business idea. Ten student groups from universities and colleges across the capital have made the shortlist in this year’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition.

From eco-friendly bus shelters to energy saving smart plugs, and converting old bangers to electric cars, each student business will get the chance to sell their idea to a panel of expert judges including award-winning solo yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur, newsreader Charlene White, and Richard Reed, entrepreneur, co-founder of Innocent Smoothies.

Each student business will have five minutes to set out their idea and be grilled by the judges in front of a live audience of fellow students, academics and leading experts from the energy and climate change sector.

The winning idea will be announced at lunchtime, and will go on to receive the funding and support necessary to move the business onto the next step and become a part of London’s low carbon economy.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “A wonderful array of superbly sustainable student business ideas have made this year’s shortlist, so some tough decisions will need to be made, and I don’t envy our judges that task. Today’s ideas could go on to become the wind turbines or energy saving lightbulb of tomorrow, and I’m sure our young entrepreneurs will go on to play an important part in fostering jobs and growth in the capital’s burgeoning green economy for many years to come.”

The Mayor’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition is designed to encourage the next generation to help build London’s growing low carbon, and renewable sector. His London Infrastructure Plan 2050 estimates that the transition to a more ‘circular economy’ could save London £5bn from 2016-2050.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “I’m really excited to see what ideas students are coming up with and looking forward to seeing how many have taken on board the concepts of a circular economy.”

Charlene White, journalist and newsreader, said: “It was great to be involved with the awards, so many great ideas which will no doubt be implemented in some way in the future. The £20,000 startup fund to help one young entrepreneur is a fabulous stepping stone. And I look forward to seeing the idea come to fruition."

This year’s shortlist: Zero emission old bangers: a service to convert heavy polluting into electric cars, more suitable for city life. (University of East London, by Carlos Silva)

The Gaia Gallery: a high tech and sustainably renovated canal boat to host courses and events more cheaply than traditional venues. (UCL, by Louis Melville Rutherford, Ali Stephens and Linda Royles)

SkipSkip: An app to recycle each component of redundant electrical devices using unique serial numbers. (Royal College of Art, by Michael Andrea)

A-Z - A new Bus Shelter for London: Green bus stop to recycle rain water, produce solar power and create cleaner air, water and power while improving the urban landscape. (University of Westminster, by Oliver Andrew)

Clotho London: A clothes exchange service reducing landfill and dissuading students from buying new. (Imperial College London, by Caroline Wood and Vivien Tang)

Bump Mark: A Bio- reactive food expiry label that activates when the food inside the packaging goes bad. (Brunel University, by Solveiga Pakstaite)

openwatt: A device to reduce electricity being used by large appliances when there is pressure on the national grid. (Imperial College London, by Lucas Kruitwagen, Michael Kenefick, and Simon Madsen)‎

CycleBay: A network of first class bike parking bays, making cycling across London more casual, convenient and safe. (Brunel University, by Sebastian Grenzhäuser)

Stars Key and Hutch: Energy efficiency star rating system for student and rental homes. (Brunel University, by Rajan Dua and Paul Ouro)

Solar SOAS: Community solar panels to reduce London’s carbon footprint which can be rolled out to other universities. (SOAS, By Isobel Annan, Robert Van Maaren, Charlotte Klinting, Domenica Lewis, Hannah Caroline Short, and Clare Birkett) UK Chief Executive of the sponsors, Siemens plc, Juergen Maier, said: “The Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition is a unique opportunity for London students to gain funding to transform their concepts into reality. The young people we have employed through this competition at our sustainable cities initiative, The Crystal, have demonstrated their desire to create a better city environment. I look forward to meeting this year’s winners and interns.” Now in its fourth year, more than 150 ideas from 28 London institutions were submitted as part of the 2015 competition, which is sponsored by leading global engineering company Siemens. Successful previous winners include Arthur Kay, with his ‘bio-bean’ concept to convert used coffee grounds into bio-fuel and Kirsty Kenny and Harold Craston, with their idea ‘solarbox’, which offers free solar powered charging kiosks.

Notes to editors

Low Carbon Entrepreneur Judging Panel 2015

Dame Ellen MacArthur: Solo yachtswoman and founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation which encourages businesses and other organisations to use the principles of circular economy in their activities‎ Charlene White: ITV newsreader and journalist, teaches and mentors young Londoners Richard Reed: Co-founder of Innocent smoothies, continuing entrepreneur Morad Fareed: Entrepreneur and former professional football player. Advocate for wellbeing standards showing that being more sustainable can also have a positive impact on consumer health Andrew Hall: Siemens UK CFO Martin Powell: Siemens Global Head of Urban Development Johnny Luk: CEO of the National Association for College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) Matthew Pencharz Senior Advisor to the Mayor of London on Environment and Energy

- The London Infrastructure Plan 2050 estimates that if London accelerates the transition to a circular economy it could save £5bn from 2016-2050 through the avoidance of large waste disposal infrastructure as the circular economy requires more small, light industrial units. The London Infrastructure Plan 2050 sets out a number of commitments to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in London, including for LWARB to develop a circular economy route map and for the GLA family to lead by example by reviewing its procurement and material handling to enable circular procurement.

- Bio-bean was founded by Arthur Kay now running as a fully operational corporation turning London waste coffee grounds into biofuels

- ‘solarbox’ was co-founded by Kirsty Kenney and Harold Craston in 2014, and the team also includes Baron Derrick van Voorst tot Voorst. They work out of Impact Hub Islington. For more information visit or

- The Low Carbon Entrepreneur 2015 has been made possible thanks to sponsorship from Siemens, a global engineering company with a focus on the key sectors of Energy, Industry, Healthcare and Infrastructure & Cities. For more information visit:

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