From insect growing pods to fish skin fashion, discover how young innovators are delivering creative solutions to our most pressing sustainability issues
According to former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, “young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation.” And as we push to make substantial progress towards net zero this decade, we should all hope that there is truth in the saying: ‘age considers; youth ventures’.
Fortunately, the winners of this year’s Young Innovators Awards give us cause for optimism. The awards—run by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency—are part of a broader programme to provide inspiring young entrepreneurs with the opportunity to take their business idea to the next level.
From insect growing pods to fish skin fashion, the awards show how young innovators are delivering creative solutions to our most pressing sustainability issues. Read on to discover Six of the most exciting.
WASHING CLOTHES WITH SHOWER WATER
Lylo Products has developed a device that allows users to wash their laundry using less water than a normal washing machine. Water is collected in a removable water tank that is placed on the floor of a shower like a mat. As the user showers, this tank fills up and is then reattached to the device’s base. The machine then filters the water and uses it to wash dirty clothes.
Company co-founder Joanne Powers, aged 23, told Springwise that the average washing machine uses between 50 and 80 litres of water, so changing this one process can lead to significant water savings. Furthermore, Powers highlights that the device is an important educational tool. “When people are using a device that collects and reuses water they suddenly start realising that water re-use is a possibility and is actually safe,” she explains.
Affordability is another of the startup’s main aims. Students are a key target market for Lylo, as on-campus launderette facilities are often very expensive for those living on a tight budget.
WIND TURBINES ON HOUSES
Dorset’s Joe Garrett, age 21, has developed the AuraGen – a vertical axis wind turbine for domestic use. The AuraGen’s unique design aims to minimise a phenomenon called ‘dynamic stall’ where factors such as wind shear and turbulence place a heavy load on turbine blades – reducing their lifespan. Moreover, the design is simple—reducing maintenance requirements—and offers good power performance. The AuraGen is omni-directional which means it doesn’t matter which way the wind is blowing, and the technology is tailored to work most effectively on pitched roofs.
Garett told Springwise that the idea for the AuraGen came to him as a teenager when he worked on scaffolding and rooftops with his dad. His experiences working in the wind stuck with him and gave him the idea for a roof-mounted wind turbine.
INSECT GROWING PODS PRODUCE PET FOOD AND FERTILISER
Thomas Constant, age 27, from West London is founder of a company called BeoBia that
has created insect growing pods for people’s homes. The insects recycle food waste and convert it into affordable and sustainable pet food and plant fertiliser. The user-friendly design can be placed anywhere in the home – encouraging the whole family to take an interest in the lives of the insects.
Constant discovered the amazing benefits of insects when studying design and technology at university. BeoBia’s ultimate mission is to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint, reuse their food waste, and rethink their relationship to pet food.
FISH SKIN FASHION ACCESSORIES
Felsie, a business founded by University of Bristol graduate Antonia Gillett, age 28, creates leather accessories from waste fish skins. The bags and wallets are made using material sourced from Scottish salmon smokehouses that would otherwise be thrown away. The company gives 50 per cent of its profits to conservation projects working to protect threatened river habitats such as the rivers Wye and Usk in Wales.
“I think our native fish and rivers are beautiful and deserve protecting,” Gillett writes on the Felsie website. “I also believe that fish leather is the most stunning undiscovered material which should be celebrated,” she adds. Her passion for salmon began with her childhood holidays to Scotland, where she learned to fly fish and discovered the salmon’s unique life cycle.
FRUIT WINES FROM FOOD SURPLUS
Aberdeen’s Lasse Melgaard, age 24, came up with the idea for his business, Two Racoons, while dumpster diving in pursuit of his passion for microbiology.
Two Racoons repurposes surplus fruit that would have otherwise been binned to create exciting new fruit wines. The company even re-purposes the waste leftover after the winemaking process to grow mushrooms. The startup’s ultimate goal is to lead the way as a carbon-negative winery.
BOTTLE TOPS TO TABLETOPS
Bristol-based Eva Gilder-Hodgson is founder of The Bristol Plastic Factory, a design studio and workshop turning bottle tops into furniture and homeware products.
Gilder-Hodgson founded the workshop in the height of lockdown in January 2021, with help from her friends and neighbours. The studio accepts plastic tops from milk bottles, fizzy drinks, juice cartons, and water bottles.
Words: Matthew Hempstead
22nd March 2022