From wastewater disease surveillance to insect-based food, Imperial women are at the forefront of cutting-edge businesses.
Five new startups founded by women students are due to go head-to-head in the final stage of the College’s WE Innovate Programme.
The WE Innovate programme, run by Imperial’s Enterprise Lab, is the College’s flagship entrepreneurship education programme designed to support the next generation of women entrepreneurs and help them accelerate their startups.
Advancing entrepreneurial skills
The six-month programme supports students, graduates and alumni who identify as women to develop an early-stage business idea and advance their leadership and entrepreneurial skills.
WE Innovate incorporates business coaching, masterclasses and networking, with the aim of increasing the number of women in leadership positions, running startups and raising funding. At the final, the five finalists will pitch in front of a live audience for a chance to win a share of a £30,000 prize fund, sponsored by bp.
- Register to attend the live WE Innovate Final on Wednesday 22 June to watch the finalist pitches and hear the winners announced.
Ben Mumby-Croft, Director of Imperial Enterprise Lab, said: "This year's WE Innovate programme has been our strongest yet and I am proud of all of the teams who have participated over the last six months - as well as Alae Ismail and the Enterprise Lab team who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to support the WE Innovators and make the programme such a success.
"It was incredibly difficult to shortlist the five finalists from the ten semi-finalist teams and, even though there can only be one ultimate winner, I am confident that all of the teams from the semi-finals onwards will go on to great success."
Wastewater disease surveillance
Untap are developing intelligent community health monitoring using sewage. The team say that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, viral transmission in workplaces and communities was a multi-billion-pound problem. Now, they say, workplaces and community spaces demand better safeguarding against infectious diseases, however monitoring outbreaks by testing individuals is expensive, time consuming and invasive (e.g., taking blood and saliva samples).
Untap’s solution is wastewater surveillance that could monitor a whole community in one test and ensures 100% participation. This could be to detect coronavirus, or any other virus.
Untap was co-founded by Faculty of Engineering PhD graduates Dr Claire Trant and Dr Jay Bullen.
Fixing the future
Team Repair are developing a programme to send electronic gadgets with deliberate faults to 8–12-year-olds to fix, designed to teach them key scientific knowledge and fixing skills. The team are aiming to solve two problems: getting more children into STEM (science, technology, engineering and medicine) and inspiring the next generation to repair, and in turn also helping to reduce waste.
The team’s monthly subscription-based STEM learning kit sends 8–12-year-olds a new broken electronic gadget to fix along with the necessary tools and an accompanying app to guide them through the activity. The 12-month programme will teach them key STEM knowledge and fixing skills through topics such as batteries and motors, while they get to take apart and repair real products. When finished, they return the gadget to us for reuse, but keep the tools to make the repair again.
Team Repair was co-founded by Design Engineering students Megan Hale, Anais Engelmann, Oliver Colebourne, Patrick McGuckian and Oscar Jones.
Water quality sensor
Climate change has affected water quality for aquaculture (practice of farming seafood, increasing the risk of fish mortality and inefficient cultivation, according to finalist team Banoo. They say that farmers can no longer rely on traditional methods to predict weather or water quality, which creates huge profit loss for farmers without immediate troubleshooting.
Banoo’s solution is an affordable and integrated aquaculture technology for fish farmers to monitor and troubleshoot water quality issues in real-time through an Internet of Things (IoT) system including microbubble aeration system, water quality sensor, and mobile apps which enable farmers to monitor their ponds remotely.
Saved develops insect-based food such as cereals, pasta and snacks, leveraging insects’ high protein content and nutrients to become an alternative protein. The Saved team, whose founder is a graduate from the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management at Imperial College Business School, say that cricket protein is 20 times more efficient as a protein source than cattle and produces 80 times less methane. In addition, insects require less food, land and energy than any other animal protein, the team say.
The team hope to break down stereotypes around eating insects and contribute to the development of a more sustainable food supply chain.
Targeting the gender health gap
Woost are developing an at-home blood test kit to regularly track biomarkers in menstrual blood to diagnose gynaecological conditions earlier.
Coupled with a digital platform, women can analyse their results, understand their symptoms, and gain access to reviewed health information and treatment support. The team hope to target the gender health gap affecting women and provide them with the support they need to take control of their own health journey.
Woost was founded by Melis Eda Ekinci, graduate of a PhD in Chemical Biology of Health & Disease.
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