A team of recent graduates who designed a micro-manufacturing machine called ‘The Polyfloss Factory’ to transform waste thermoplastics such as polypropylene into a new versatile material, have won this year’s Innovation Hothouse competition.

The graduates of the Innovation Design Engineering course run jointly by the Royal College of Art and Imperial College created Polyfloss, a versatile and reusable material, which can be manufactured on a small scale using their machine, to win the competition and inaugural J C Gammon Award for Innovation.

The machine heats and spins small pieces of waste thermoplastics into a candy floss-like material, which the team has called Polyfloss. This new material provides heat and noise insulation and can even be used to make non-shrinkable yarn, suitable for knitting. As it is easy to re-melt and uses inexpensive moulds, multi-structured products with both hard and soft surfaces can be easily created. The first product to be made from Polyfloss is PolyPanel; a wall panel for interior and exterior spaces, providing a barrier for noise, harsh temperatures or impact resistance.

The team behind Polyfloss had to fight off tough competition from the other finalists, who all had to pitch their designs to a panel of judges, in a scenario not dissimilar to Dragon’s Den.

Dick Glover, Director of Research at McLaren Automotive and Chair of the judging panel, said: “The standard of entries for this year’s competition was exceptionally high. This is not only a good sign for the future of UK engineering, but also for the hi-tech entrepreneurial-driven economy which is becoming increasingly important to the future well-being of this country.”

In addition to £9,000 prize fund for all finalists, the winning team will be able to access in-kind support and expertise from a consortium of companies that specialise in supporting start-up ventures. The team will be guided through the use of this award package by the Innovation Hothouse Business Angel panel whose objective is to see the Polyfloss factory developed into a viable business.

Notes for editors

  1. The Innovation Hothouse competition is run by The Royal Academy of Engineering, Institution of Engineering Designers, Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, and Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

    As well as a trophy, the £5,000 'J C Gammon Award for Innovation' prize is awarded to support the individual or team in developing their project after the event. Runners-up prizes of £3,000 and £1,000 were presented. The ultimate aim of the scheme is that participants are encouraged to start-up and create flourishing businesses. For more information about the finalists and competition, please visit:
    News release: Innovation hothouse finalists confirmed
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Ian J Bowbrick at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0604