Imperial teams win big in mayor’s contractor competition


Two teams of Imperial students won awards in this year’s Mayor’s Entrepreneurial Competition.

Two teams of enterprising students from Imperial College London each won £ 20,000 to start their business after winning the London Mayor’s Entrepreneur Contest.

The London Mayor’s Entrepreneurial Competition, which began in 2012, challenges London students to come up with viable and sustainable business ideas. There are several award categories in the competition including environment, technology and health.

Dye recycling technology

The Environment Prize of the competition seeks innovations to reduce carbon emissions in London.

This award was won by DyeRecycle, co-founded by Chemical Engineer Doctoral students Aida Rafat and Anton Firth, and Professor Jason Hallett, for their innovative dye recycling technology which allows the extraction and reuse of dyes directly from textile waste.

Their patent pending process takes over colored textile waste and transfers the color to a new material, bleaching the waste. The resulting white fibers are then more easily recycled and have a higher value. The DyeRecycle process also recycles the dyes, creating a new circular source of dyes.

The team plans to source textile waste from large, established sorting houses in London. The discolored material could then be sold to textile recyclers and provide a sustainable dyeing service to the 1,500 clothing manufacturers in London.

The team was previously part of the College’s 2020 program Business Catalyst Challenge and now participates in Techcelerate, a program that supports early career researchers with their business ideas.

Bringing sewers into the 21st century

The Tech Prize seeks technological innovations to help make London a better place to live and work. This year’s prize was awarded to Manhole metrics, founded by Public works student Will Dubin.

ManholeMetrics aims to bring London’s Victorian sewers into the 21st century and end fatbergs – large masses of solid waste in a sewage system. Their device, recently approved by Thames Water, would attach under existing manhole covers, allowing remote monitoring of the sewer system. Providers would then be alerted when a routine intervention should take place.

The team hopes to put the power of data in the hands of wastewater utility companies who, coupled with the team’s analytics software, hope to improve services and protect the health and safety of Londoners. Founder Will said: “Sewers can be seen as the very backbone of society, and being able to meaningfully contribute to the daily lives of so many in society is at the heart of why I chose to study civil engineering. “

Portable physiotherapy

The Health Prize seeks innovations to reduce waste and make the health sector more sustainable. This award was won by KnitRegen Ltd which is developing wearable physiotherapy in the form of smart wires to aid in stroke rehabilitation. KnitRegen Ltd was founded by Laura Salisbury who previously participated in MedTech Superconnector, an Imperial Oil-led entrepreneurial training program for early-career researchers.

Make London cleaner and greener

The Mayor’s Entrepreneur program aims to create growth that makes London cleaner, greener and future-ready, and to ensure that students see entrepreneurship as a viable career path, equipping them with the skills they need to be successful.

Of the 140 semi-finalists selected for this year’s Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition, 23 were from Imperial.

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