Innovative projects ranging from a sailing safety solution to a machine that creates a new material have been selected to compete in the national final of the Innovation Hothouse initiative; a Dragon’s Den-style competition for engineering students.

The finalists from the 7 regional heats will now pitch to business angels and compete for the £5,000 prize to support the development of their winning project.

The seven finalists:

  • The Polyfloss Factory, a micro-manufacturing machine that transforms a waste product polypropylene into a versatile new material called Polyfloss has been designed by a team at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. The idea is to enable people to create valuable recycled plastic objects on a local level.
  • Jonathan Otter from Northumbria University has developed a superior tool to clean the breach chamber of the small arms rifle used by the British armed forces to armoury inspection standard.
  • An adaptable wall-mounted ‘grab and go’ storage solution that holds objects in an innovative and attractive way is the brainchild of Simon Lyons of Loughborough University.  His product uses a matrix of flexible elements mounted on a backboard that work together to bend around whatever shape and size of object needs to be held.
  • Another student from Loughborough University, Thomas Casselden, has designed and built prototype Alpine skis that can be assembled from a number of sub components to allow skiers to configure skis for different types of skiing and terrains.
  • Luke Grey from Brunel University has submitted ‘Kip’; an ergonomically-designed device that provides secure and comfortable support to the head and neck to allow better napping in a seated position.
  • ‘Off the Hook’ is an innovative mechanism and harness to make trapeze sailing safer by Simon Mc Namee, also from Brunel University. Currently, a safety hook is used to secure sailors to a wire as they balance on the edge of high speed dinghies. His improved design solves the problem of sailors getting caught and trapped in a capsize situation.
  • An entirely human-powered water craft designed for maximum speed in a straight line has been designed by Richard Stocker at the University of Nottingham.  Its most striking feature is the fibreglass hydrofoils, which raise the hull above water at high speeds to boost efficiency.

The Innovation Hothouse competition aims to showcase the best final year university student design projects and provide an opportunity for young engineers to present their work to a panel of business angels who will offer advice and potentially funding to help students develop their work into a commercially viable product.

The finalists competed in competitions taking place across the UK and will now face a panel of business angels at the Innovation Hothouse Final, which will be held on 21 September at The Royal Academy of Engineering, as part of the London Design Festival.

At the final, each competitor or team will be given 10 minutes to pitch their product to a panel of four business angels. There is a real opportunity to secure potential investment for their projects and each project will be considered by the judges from a commercial perspective. Finalists will also be able to network with a group of industrial technical experts and financiers.

The 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 intended to support the individual or team in developing their project after the event. Runners-up prizes of £3,000 and £1,000 will also be presented.

The ultimate aim of the scheme is that participants are encouraged to start-up and create flourishing businesses.

Notes for editors

  1. The Innovation Hothouse is a partnership between The Royal Academy of Engineering, Institution of Engineering Designers, Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, and Institution of Mechanical Engineers, aimed at fostering the commercialisation of student design projects. For more information please visit:
  2. Entrants invited to apply for the competition from final year Undergraduate and Postgraduate MSc students on all engineering, materials and product design degree courses in the UK.
  3. 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

Sarah Griffiths at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0655