Imperial teams win big at Mayor's Entrepreneur Competition


A miniature pink tshirt

Image credit: DyeRecycle

Two student teams from Imperial have scooped prizes at this year’s Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition.

Two teams of entrepreneurial Imperial College London students have each won £20,000 to kickstart their businesses after winning at the Mayor of London’s Entrepreneur Competition

The Mayor of London’s Entrepreneur Competition, which began in 2012, challenges London’s students to come up with viable, sustainable business ideas. There are several categories of award in the competition, including Environment, Tech and Health. 

Dye recycling technology 

The competition’s Environment award looks for innovations to reduce carbon emissions in London. 

This award was won by DyeRecycle, co-founded by Chemical Engineering PhD students Aida Rafat and Anton Firth, and Professor Jason Hallett, for their innovative dye recycling technology that enables the extraction and re-use of dyes directly from textile waste.   

Their patent-pending process takes in coloured textile waste and transfers the colour onto new material, decolourising the waste. The resulting white fibres are then more easily recycled and carry a higher value. DyeRecycle’s process also recycles the dyes, creating a new, circular source of dyes.  

The team plan to source their textile waste from London’s large, established sorting houses. Decoloured material could then be sold to textile recyclers and offer a sustainable dying service to London’s 1,500 apparel manufacturers.  

The team was previously part of the College’s 2020 Venture Catalyst Challenge and is now taking part in Techcelerate, a programme that supports Early Career Researchers with their business ideas.   

Bringing sewers into the 21st century 

The Tech award looks for technological innovations to help make London a better place to live and work. This year’s award went to ManholeMetrics, founded by Civil Engineering student Will Dubin.  

ManholeMetrics is aiming to bring London’s Victorian sewers into the 21st century and end fatbergs – large masses of solid waste in a sewerage system. Their device, recently endorsed by Thames Water, would fix to the underside of existing manhole covers, allowing for remote monitoring of the sewage network. Providers would then be alerted as to when a routine intervention should take place.  

The team hope to put the power of data into the hands of wastewater utility companies which, coupled with the team’s analysis software, they hope will improve services and protect the health and safety of Londoners. Founder Will said: “Sewers can be considered the very backbone of society, and being able to contribute in a meaningful way to the daily lives of so many within society is at the very core of why I chose to study civil engineering.” 

Wearable physiotherapy 

The Health award seeks innovations to reduce waste and make the health sector more sustainable. This award was won by KnitRegen Ltd who are developing wearable physiotherapy in the form of smart yarns to help with stroke rehabilitation. KnitRegen Ltd was founded by Laura Salisbury who previously took part in the MedTech SuperConnector, an Imperial-led entrepreneurial training programme for early-career researchers.  

Making London cleaner and greener 

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

Out of 140 semi-finalists selected for this year’s Mayor’s Entrepreneur competition, 23 were from Imperial.  


Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications Division

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Entrepreneurship, Enterprise, Comms-strategy-Entrepreneurial-ecosystem, Student-entrepreneurship, Sustainability
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