The Royal Academy of Engineering invited UK university teams to participate in the Engineering a Better World Student Innovation Competition 2017: a seven-month programme of challenge-led innovation, design and business development, culminating in the opportunity for five successful teams to attend the Global Grand Challenges Summit in Washington DC.

Nominated teams of undergraduate students took part in a two-day interactive workshop on 9 and 10 March 2017, facilitated by UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP), where they were confronted with a global challenge and tasked to develop a solution that engineering expertise can address in an innovative and effective way. This solution must contribute to sustainable development and reduction of poverty in developing countries. 

Showcase Winners

The Competition Showcase on 5 April 2017 saw 18 teams of students pitching their ideas to our group of esteemed judging from the engineering and international development professions, and to other attendees from our community. 

Congratulations to the five winning teams that have been chosen to attend the Global Grand Challenges Summit 2017 in Washington DC, and compete in the Grand Finals against teams from the US and China with their ideas. 

The UK Finalists were:

  • University of Hull - MediHull Systems:

    A personalised system for helping pelvic girdle pain sufferers in developing countries

  • University of Bristol - Wayaround:

    A city travel app specifically for people that identify as having a disability, tailored to meet different accessibility needs

  • Heriot-Watt University - Skoon Maji:

    A 3-part (ceramic, activated carbon, and solar) water filtration system for communities in Tanzania

  • Bournemouth University and Arts University Bournemouth - MoreWater:

    A water purifier for the slums of Dhaka, tailored to meet specific decontamination needs of various areas

  • University of Sheffield - ARM Prosthetics:

    Accessible recycled material prosthetics for amputees in developing countries

Global Grand Challenges Summit

The winning teams went on to develop full business proposals for their design solutions, supported by a Business Development Bootcamp with Marcius Extavour from XPRIZE on 20 May, and then had the opportunity to represent the UK at the Global Grand Challenges Summit in Washington DC in July.

The UK, US and Chinese academies of engineering hosted this Summit on 19-20 July 2017 at the George Washington University, with the student competition day on 18 July and an opening reception that evening. Engineering leaders, educators and rising star students were invited to gather and seek solutions to humanity’s great challenges, inspiring the next generation to forge a better future for the world through engineering and interdisciplinary collaboration. 

The Summit's inspiring speakers included:

  • Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist, Oculus VR
  • Martha Lane Fox, Founder, doteveryone.org 
  • Jeffrey Dean, Google Senior Fellow 
  • Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer to the UK
  • Christof Koch, President and Chief Scientific Officer, Allen Institute for Brain Science
  • Professor Molly Stevens FREng, Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine, Imperial College London
  • Rajiv Shah, President, The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Dean Kamen, Inventor and Founder of FIRST Robotics
  • Lori McCreary, CEO and Co-Founder, Revelations Entertainment
  • Deanne Bell, Host of CNBC’s “Make Me a Millionaire Inventor”

Congratulations to MoreWater from Bournemouth University for receiving the second place prize of $15,000 in the Grand Finals Competition! 

Visit the Engineering a Better World Album for photos of the Summit, and the Engineering a Better World Blog to read about the students' experiences. 

Please contact betterworld@raeng.org.uk with any queries.