The Royal Academy of Engineering has revealed the four finalists for its £15,000 prize competition seeking innovative inventions.
The Launchpad Competition is aimed at 16-25-year-old engineers who have an entrepreneurial idea for a new product or device.
The four designs shortlisted include a biodegradable tent, a medical device to “revolutionise” kidney dialysis, a magnetic gas monitor, and an inflatable incubator for premature babies (which won the James Dyson award last year).
The four finalists have been invited to join the Enterprise Hub, the RAE’s programme that provides mentoring, training and access to “business connections”.
The winner will also receive the JC Gammon Award – a trophy and £15,000.
“Save lives and aid the developing world”
Ian Shott, chair of the RAE Enterprise Committee, says: “This year’s finalists are testament to the fantastic ideas that the younger generation is capable of generating.
“Our panel has seen ground-breaking ideas with the potential to save lives, transform the leisure and tourism industry, aid the developing world and lower our carbon footprint.
“All four of this year’s Launchpad finalists have shown tremendous potential on all counts, and I believe that the unrivalled support they will receive from the RAE Enterprise Hub will help them maximise their potential.”
Kidney dialysis device
Sorin Popa, 25
Popa is CEO of start-up company Stent Tek, which is developing a medical device that allows patients to receive lifelong kidney dialysis without the need for invasive surgery. Surgery is normally required to connect blood vessels in the arm through an access site called a fistula. The Stent Tek device produces two needle-sized punctures in the arm that will allow a stent graft tube to connect blood vessels instead.
Amanda Campbell, 23
Campbell is an architecture student who has designed a compostable, plant-based tent, which aims to biodegrade within four months. She created it by manipulating cellulose fibres and bioplastics to replicate the elongation properties of a regular tent. It aims to be rain-resistant, lightweight, and have material costs that are one tenth of the sales price. It can be disposed of with food waste, and aims to save in transport costs, landfill taxes and also reduce the carbon footprint of festivals.
Magnetic gas monitor
George Edwards, 19
Edwards, CEO of company Gas-Sense, has developed a device that monitors gas canister usage – he has designed a magnetic strip that is attached to the bottle and transmits real-time data on gas consumption to a smartphone app. The app also aims to predict how much gas will be needed for specific camping trips and notify users if they leave the gas on by mistake. It monitors location, so gas suppliers can send text notifications directing users to nearby shops if they are low on gas.
Inflatable incubator for premature babies
James Roberts, 23
Roberts, a previous product design and technology student at Loughborough university, has aimed to develop a low-cost incubator that could be easily transported and stored in underdeveloped countries and warzones. His inflatable incubator can be quickly flat-packed and powered from a car battery for 24 hours, and aims to be sold for 1/30th of the price of a regular incubator. The design won the James Dyson Award last year.
Why service design?
Shott, chair of the RAE Enterprise Committee, adds that it is “incredibly important” for young engineers to have the opportunity to “create and exploit” their ideas for service design purposes.
He says: “Today, young people are increasingly well-informed about global social challenges, and as such they are often pursuing engineering with philanthropic motivations, rather than purely for financial benefit or a love of technology.
“This is extremely important in creating a pool of highly motivated, talented engineers able to tackle the greatest medical and environmental challenges that we face – and is certainly evident in many of the applications we have received from young entrepreneurs for the Launchpad scheme.”
The winner of the Launchpad Competition will be announced at an event on 29 September, after the finalists pitch their businesses to judges including investors, Fellows of the RAE and engineering entrepreneurs.