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Carbon-locking concrete, autonomous mini-boats and bionic hands scoop Young Innovator Awards

Professional Engineering

Young Innovator Fergal Mackie, developer of Metacarpal, a body-powered bionic hand
Young Innovator Fergal Mackie, developer of Metacarpal, a body-powered bionic hand

Concrete that locks in carbon dioxide, autonomous robotic vessels, and a body-powered bionic hand have scooped their inventors Young Innovators Awards.

In total, there were 94 winners of the competition organised by government-backed Innovate UK, each of whom will receive grants of £5,000 to develop their ideas.

The “exceptional standard” of projects led the organisation to award over 50% more winners this year, making today’s (24 January) the largest ever annual cohort of Young Innovators.

Winners included:

  • Anahita Laverack (22 years old): Creator of Oshen, a fleet of wind-driven autonomous robotic vessels aimed at capturing live data from oceans. The data could be used to improve fishing, weather forecasting or shipping route planning
  • Abiel Ma (24 years old): Founder of Vuala, which uses specialised microorganisms to liquefy and separate food waste from other waste, turning it into raw material for biogas and animal feed
  • Fergal Mackie (25 years old): Developer of Metacarpal, a body-powered bionic hand that works without electronics.

Concrete4Change, which is developing novel technology for carbon sequestration within concrete, was another winning project. It is developing a concrete additive material, derived from recycled waste, to act as a ‘carrier’ for CO2.

This year’s competition had a “clear drive to support underrepresented innovation talent”, an announcement said. 46% of the winners were female, 39% were Black, Asian or from another ethnic minority group, and 11% identified as disabled.

“Innovation is about developing new and better ways of doing things, something young minds naturally do,” said research and innovation minister George Freeman.

“These 94 young innovators will each receive a £5,000 grant, one-to-one mentoring and living-cost support to develop their innovations. The next Sir James Dyson, Martha Lane Fox, Hayaatun Sillem or Richard Branson are out there. Helping, inspiring and supporting our top young innovators is the best investment there is.”

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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