To BLOCKS, 2014 finalist who launched the world’s first modular smart watch today. Being able to buy modules for the watch lets you customise it for your needs but also update its features by buying a new module rather than a whole new watch. A great tech start-up from past London students.
In 2012, Arthur Kay, from UCL's Bartlett School of Architecture, won the Low Carbon Prize for his idea, Bio-Bean which has industrialised the process of turning waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels and biochemicals. Recently Bio-bean has expanded its product line and is producing Coffee Logs which are high-performance, sustainable briquettes made from your recycled coffee grounds and Biomass Pellets which are carbon neutral and used for heating buildings.
Since winning the Low Carbon Prize he has gone on to win various competitions and awards including the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, Shell LiveWIRE, the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Award and VOOM.
Arthur is now the CEO of his own company which had millions of pounds of investment and employs 50 people over two sites.
In 2016, Elena Dieckman and Ryan Robinson from Imperial College London were crowned the Low Carbon Entrepreneurs with their idea, Aeropowder, a composite made from feather waste. Feathers are composed of keratin and are one of the lightest natural fibres which makes them unique in their ability to be used to create innovative, high-performance, environmentally-friendly products.
Since winning the competition they have gone on to win numerous other competitions including NACUE Varsity Pitch, Shell LiveWIRE, and RSA Student Design Awards, raising £200,000 in prize money and investment. Both Ryan and Elena have been featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe list for Social Entrepreneurs and Elena was named as one of the infocus Women in Innovation. They have also gained access to the Climate-KIC accelerator programme and most recently they have been awarded a fellowship with Echoing Green.
In 2015, Solveiga won £15,000 for her idea, Bump Mark, an expiry label which goes bad exactly when the food inside the package does.The gel inside the label is made from gelatine which behaves in the same way that packaged food does. When the label is smooth - the food is fresh, when the bumps can be felt – it is no longer safe to eat. This new labelling aims to reduce food waste by telling us more about the state of our packaged food.
Since 2015 Solveiga has won numerous competitions including Shell LiveWIRE, The Grocer's Top New Talent, the Hawley Award for Sustainable Engineering, and the James Dyson Award. She has also been supported by several accelerator programmes including Climate-KIC, the Good Kitchen, Unreasonable Impact, and the Central Research Laboratory.
Her company has recently been rebranded as Mimica and she now employs 5 people and a team of expert advisors. Mimica Touch is still in the development phase but keep an eye out for this product at conferences and talks around the country.
Serge Didenko, Omer El Fakir and their team from Imperial College London were finalists in the 2014 competition with their idea BLOCKS, a modular smartwatch that can evolve with advances in technology and your changing needs. The watches are composed of easily assembled and replaceable modules that each carry out a different function. The core of the watch is fitted with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an activity tracker. Additional functionality is added to the watch with individual modules, such as an environmental sensor, a heart rate monitor and GPS, which then form a customised smart strap.
Since participating in the competition they raised $1.6 million in a Kickstarter campaign. Using this and other Angel investments they moved into manufacture and have started shipping the first devices. The team is growing at a rapid rate and BLOCKS now have offices in four countries.
Carlton Cummins from Brunel was a finalist in the 2016 competition with his idea Aceleron. He has developed the technology to transform perceived end-of-life lithium batteries from the automotive and consumer electronics industry into renewable energy storage. The goal is to introduce lithium batteries to the circular economy, reducing waste by reusing these batteries to produce low cost energy storage.
Since participating in the competition Carlton has been named as Shell LiveWIRE's young entrepreneur of the year, received funding from InnovateUK to scale up production and has been featured on the 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 Europe list. In 2016 Carlton was accepted onto the Autodesk Entrepreneurship Impact programme and the Central Research Laboratory Incubator.
In 2014, Kirsty Kenney and Harold Craston from LSE won £5,000 for their idea, Solarbox. Their idea was to repurpose disused red telephone boxes to create free to use mobile phone charging stations using carbon neutral solar panels, providing a solution to the everyday problem of poor battery life on modern phones. The first solarbox was launched in October 2014 on Tottenham Court Road. Read more in their blog.
Since the launch of the first Solarbox Kirsty and Harold have launched Public Space Jam which works with organisations and individuals to promote livability in London. So far they have created #livingbox which is a disused phone box with a living wall on one side which celebrates the positive effects of vegetation in urban areas such as air purification, increased biodiversity and positive impact on health and wellbeing.
Isobel Annan and her team were finalists in the 2015 competition with their idea Solar SOAS which was an initiative to launch a community-owned clean energy project on unused SOAS university rooftops. Led by students and alumni, this project aims to provide renewable energy locally, offer a green investment vehicle, help reduce London’s carbon footprint and serve as a pilot for other UK universities. Since the competition Solar SOAS were awarded a £20,000 grant from the DECC Urban Community Energy Fund and raised an additional £22,000 through crowd funding. There is now 29.6 kW of solar panels on the roof of the SOAS Old Building. This project will generate a yearly green fund of £2000 a year for 20 years to be used by the SOAS community. The team is currently planning how they can develop, improve and expand this model to other universities and public institutions.
Since the solar panels were installed they have generated an estimated 24,150 kWh/year and saved 10,384.5 kg of CO2 per year.
Chris and Jamie from Queen Mary, University of London were finalists in 2017 with their idea, Too Good To Go. This is an app and online platform helping eliminate edible food waste within the hospitality sector. The app allows restaurants, cafes and bakeries to sell their surplus food at the end of breakfast, lunch and dinner service for between 50-90% off regular menu prices.
Too good to go now operate in 6 different countries with 4500 partner stores. They have saved over 1.6 million meals and have avoided over 3200 tonnes of CO2.
In 2017 Ehab Sayed from Brunel University was a finalist with his idea Triagomy. This is an interlocking construction system that can create affordable buildings in 8% of current build-times and reduce their environmental impact by up to 90%. It allows buildings to be deconstructed and reconstructed at any stage of their life eliminating demolition and making recycling and re-use a much easier process. This panel-based construction system does not require binding materials, additional fixtures or fasteners to create durable robust structures. Triagomy is currently in its 16th iteration and prototypes are being developed.
Since taking part in the competition Biohm has been shortlisted as one of the top 5 bids to build a state of the art mountain shelter in Bulgaria and shortlisted as the top 500 deep-tech startups worldwide and recently Ehab has been chosen as a Climate-KIC Pioneer.
In 2017, Elle and Alborz from City, University of London, won the Mayor's Entrepreneur with their ideaTwipes which they invented to tackle the environmental issues surrounding wet wipes. Twipes are hygienic, water-dispersible wet wipes on a roll designed to fit into existing toilet roll holders. They are free from harsh chemicals and dissolve in water within three hours. This makes them an environmentally-friendly alternative to existing wet wipes currently on the market that don’t degrade quickly and can cause serious issues and damage to the drainage system.
Twipes are developing their idea at City’s student startup incubator, the Launch Lab, to develop the idea further. Before studying a business short course at City, Elle did a first degree in biomedical science and this strong scientific background came in handy when developing the product. They have now created a novel formula of wipe made from wood pulp that disperses in water and have developed prototypes of the packaging.
Since being crowned the 2017 Mayor's Entrepreneur Twipes have been busy working on getting their product to market, exhibiting at lots of different events and entering other competitions. Elle came third in the Women's Start-Up competition and Twipes will soon be pitching at the NACUE Varsity Pitch Finals.