Make-a-Difference Impact Challenge 2016: call for student teams


The Hidden Gens team, winners of the FoNS MAD Competition 2015. The team members: Stanislav Piletsky, Zeyu Yang and Cristian Zagar from the Department of Chemistry and medical student Simon Rabinowicz

The Hidden Gens team, winners of the FoNS MAD Competition 2015

Innovative student ideas with an impact on society sought at the launch of the annual Faculty of Natural Sciences Make-a-Difference Competition.

The FoNS-MAD competition, now in its third successful year, challenges all undergraduates in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, plus team members from other faculties, to develop ideas for a low-cost technology with a positive social impact. Students build a team and tackle a challenge, creating a detailed proposal of their technology.

The top three teams within the competition are then given the opportunity, space and funding to implement their project over the summer. By the end of the competition, the three teams are asked to demonstrate the proof-of-concept of their technology and to showcase their idea to a broader audience and a panel of VIP judges.


The launch event on 25 January, which was attended by students, previous competition winners and finalists, staff from across the college, plus the competition organising committee, outlined the scope of the competition and the various stages of the challenge.

The launch also featured a presentation by Hidden Gens, winners of FoNS-MAD 2015. Hidden Gens are Stanislav Piletsky, Zeyu Yang and Cristian Zagar from the Department of Chemistry, and Simon Rabinowicz from the Faculty of Medicine.

The team’s project aim was to synthesise molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) that selectively bind to specific blood antigens. This has a number of applications, but Hidden Gens’ primary objective was to engineer a new design of blood-type testing strip. Hidden Gens submitted a patent application for their idea in October 2015.

The competition’s VIP panel of judges comprises of Professor Lord Robert Winston; Professor Sir John Pendry from the Department of Physics at Imperial; Dr Ruth Allan, of Deloitte. The panel will be joined this year by new judge Professor Dame Julia Higgins, Professor of Polymer Science and Senior Research Investigator in the Department of Chemical Engineering.


Interested students are now invited to attend Ideas and Team-building Workshops, to both facilitate team-building and to help them identify and explore challenges and develop innovative solutions to them. The workshops have proved extremely popular in previous years, with students giving the following feedback:

“They were great! I met people with whom I am definitely looking to further an idea.”

“The workshops are fun and enjoyable. It allowed us to meet new people who could potentially form part of a team and share our ideas. Both the organisers were incredibly friendly and approachable, hence helping to create a welcoming and creative environment."

“I really enjoyed the team-building workshop. It is really fun but not too intense which is good as you get to relax a bit after a long day of lectures and tutorials.”

The deadline for team registration is 22 February 2016.


Rebecca Middleton

Rebecca Middleton
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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