SweetGen Ltd has won first prize in the food & water category of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Emerging Technologies Competition 2016.
SweetGen Ltd co-founders Dr Javier Rubio-Garcia, Professor Anthony Kucernak and Daniel Malko developed the technology within Imperial College London's Department of Chemistry. Their abiotic fuel system produces electricity from low quality fuels dissolved in wastewater streams; this cell-like system also offers the additional benefit of cleaning the water. The device enables faster, lower cost and less energy intensive water treatment procedures.
"We are extremely honoured by this recognition. This prestigious competition is also a great opportunity to calibrate the real potential of our ideas."
– Javier Rubio-Garcia
Director and co-Founder of SweetGen and Research Associate at Imperial College London
40 shortlisted entrants pitched their ideas to a panel of expert judges at Chemistry Means Business, a two-day event organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The winners were announced on 15 June at an award ceremony hosted by TV personality Hugh Dennis, as part of the same event.
Dr Rubio-Garcia, Director of SweetGen and Research Associate at Imperial College London said of the award: “We are extremely honoured by this recognition. This prestigious competition is also a great opportunity to calibrate the real potential of our ideas. Last year we were finalists within the Energy & Sustainability theme. Although we did not win, the interaction with large scale industrial partners helped us to refine our value proposition and development plan.”
Applications were judged on the technology’s innovation, its potential impact and the quality of the science behind it. SweetGen will receive tailored business support from one of the Royal Society’s multinational partner companies, business training, media support, and a cash prize of £20,000.
SweetGen is now being spun out by Imperial's technology commercialisation partner, Imperial Innovations. The group competed in the 2015 edition of the Venture Catalyst Challenge, an Imperial enterprise programme run by Imperial Innovations, where they developed a business plan around the fuel cell.
After the competition, the group continued to work with Innovations to develop the technology and the business. The company was formed via Co.Create, Innovations’ company formation unit, which also provided seed funding.
"Increasing innovation in the chemical sciences is one of the key elements of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s industry strategy."
– Dr Steve Pleasance
Head of Industry at the Royal Society of Chemistry
Dr Steve Pleasance, Head of Industry at the Royal Society of Chemistry said of the competition: “Increasing innovation in the chemical sciences is one of the key elements of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s industry strategy.
Our Emerging Technologies competition, now in its fourth year and supported by our industry partners, is proving to be highly successful in accelerating the commercialisation of the cutting-edge research taking place in both universities and small companies.”
Winning the competition gives businesses the platform they need to make industry aware of their technology. Since the initiative began in 2013 winners have gone on to raise a combined total of over £16 million in further funding, grown their companies and entered commercial contracts.
Chemistry Means Business, held on 15–16 June 2016, is the Royal Society of Chemistry’s flagship event for the chemistry-using industry, uniting SMEs, multinational organisations, investors and academic entrepreneurs from across the UK and Europe. Over 300 people attended the event, which comprised over 30 industry speakers, 35 exhibitors, 40 chemical innovation pitches, 5 workshops and panel discussions, partnering meetings, and an awards ceremony hosted by Hugh Dennis.
The Emerging Technologies Competition is the Royal Society of Chemistry’s annual innovation competition, accelerating commercialisation of the best European technologies for the benefit of society and the economy. The competition is aimed at universities, research institutions and small companies, and welcomes technologies in healthcare & wellbeing, energy & environment, food & water and materials. First, second and third prizes are presented in each category.
40 shortlisted entrants presented their ideas to a panel of expert judges at the competition final, held at the Chemistry Means Business event. The judges are industry leaders and experts in their fields, drawn from a wide range of specialisms.
The competition is supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry’s partners – multinational companies who are global leaders in their fields; they provide tailored business support and guidance to all winners in each of the competition categories.
The 2016 partners are P&G, AstraZeneca, GSK, Croda, GE Healthcare, Johnson Matthey, Schlumberger, Unilever, Pfizer, AkzoNobel and Aramco.
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Faculty of Natural Sciences