A team of university energy researchers have won first prize in a national competition, the Energy Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (Energy YES), with their idea for eco-friendly refrigerator cooling units.
The winning team was Midlands Energy Graduate School (MEGS) consisting of five researchers from The University of Birmingham, Loughborough University and The University of Nottingham. Their idea came about from research into using magnetic fields within household appliances and their offering was a magnetic cooling unit which can be sold to refrigeration manufacturers for use in their products.
The unit uses water instead of chemical coolants, which means greener appliances with the added bonus of low energy consumption and a longer life span.
Energy YES is a national competition that aims to develop the entrepreneurial skills of researchers whilst also helping to solve some of the most serious challenges facing the energy industry. The competition is organised by The University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) and the Network of Energy Doctoral Training Centres and is aimed at energy research PhD students.
With a prize of £1,000 for the winning idea, a total of 50 researchers from around the country took part in a workshop to develop business plans for their energy sector-specific idea before pitching their plan ‘Dragons' Den’ style, to a panel of judges.
“Energy YES has been so worthwhile. Winning aside, we’ve learnt a lot about commercialisation of science and it has been really useful to talk to mentors such as patent attorneys that we wouldn’t usually have access to. The speakers were excellent and it’s especially encouraging to hear from people who have been in our shoes as researchers and gone on to successfully commercialise their idea,” says PhD student Mei Chew, a member of the winning team.
The winning team and runner-up are now taking their ideas to the Energy YES sister competition, Engineering YES which takes place later this month.