Imperial College London

Imperial students named Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneurs 2016


Team Featherfill

Team Featherfill

An innovative carbon-saving idea has won an Imperial student team £20,000 of funding at this year's Mayor's Low Carbon Entrepreneur Competition.

Team mates Elena Dieckmann (Department of Design Engineering), Ryan Robinson (National Heart and Lung Institute) and Ioannis Tzouganatos (Department of Chemical Engineering) took home the cash prize for their creation Featherfill, a composite insulating material created from feather waste.

The annual competition brings the city’s most innovative student teams to City Hall to pitch their green business ideas for a chance to be crowned the Mayor of London’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur.

It’s a young project so we really weren’t expecting to win. We’re really surprised.

– Elena Dieckmann

Elena Dieckmann said: “Featherfill is a low carbon home insulation made from using waste feathers from the poultry industry. It’s a young project so we really weren’t expecting to win. We’re really surprised. I was in the lab last night making the samples for the final so it’s all happened really quickly.”

Ryan Robinson added: “The idea actually came from watching real chickens and how well insulated they are from their feathers in the cold. Elena ordered 10kg of feathers to try it out which are a lot bigger in volume than you’d think. We hot pressed them and freeze dried them, trying to find ways to make the idea work until we got to our design.”

The trio received the award at the competition final on Tuesday, which saw the ten finalists, including three teams from Imperial, present to the judges in front of a live audience of fellow students, academics and leading experts from the energy and climate change sector.

Ryan Robinson, Elena Dieckmann and Ioannis Tzouganatos of Featherfill

Ryan Robinson, Elena Dieckmann and Ioannis Tzouganatos of Featherfill

This year’s judges include Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Matthew Pencharz; previous winner Arthur Kay, whose successful business BioBean uses coffee bean waste to heat homes; and Niels Kirk, chairman of Citi, which is sponsoring the awards.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “London is leading the way in green technology and this competition can help kick start students’ sustainable ideas into business ventures. It’s vital that we support young enterprising people in setting up innovative businesses to make positive change and boost the capital’s thriving green economy.” 

Now in its fifth year, the competition attracted more than 250 applications from 27 London institutions, with a team of industry experts given the difficult task of selecting the 10 best ideas to progress through to the final.

As the overall winner, Featherfill will be supported by a team from City Hall to help deliver their business idea into the global low carbon economy.


Jon Narcross

Jon Narcross
Communications and Public Affairs

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Environment, Student-entrepreneurship, Enterprise
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