Published: 29 June 2023

Living Lab collaborates with Hackathon17

Students across all levels of study from Foundation Year to PhD and from all disciplines took part in the University of Surrey’s Hackathon17 event last month.

The hackathon, organised by Student Enterprise and academics from each Faculty, encourages collaborative working, an understanding of the issues in the world around us, and incorporates a flavour of entrepreneurship as teams create products and services to tackle a variety of problem-statements relating to a number of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This year, the University of Surrey Living Lab was able to sponsor a special award for an initiative with strong sustainability credentials. The Living Lab team were particularly impressed with ‘Right Side’ and awarded them £500 seed funding to further develop their idea.

Right Side, a social enterprise instigated at Hackathon17, aims to reduce plastic waste whilst tackling the cost-of-living crisis by creating low-cost blankets from single use drink receptacles.

The company is working with campus bubble tea shop, Zenchai, to create a minimum viable product by exploring the new materials that can successfully be made from bubble tea waste items.

Taking guidance from sustainable start-up ‘100 Ways in 100 Days’, Right Side recognised that the UK is a leading nation in importing blankets and aims to create its own unique UK-made version. Its business model involves rolling out blanket sales through local authority initiatives, homeless charities, and eco-conscious retailers to ensure that those who need warmth will be reached, as well as offering the sustainable shopper an option to make a planet-friendly purchase and support the cause.

We look forward to seeing more from this team of students from chemical engineering, business management and blockchain research – best of luck!

Photo: Living Lab team - Dr Nikolas Thomopoulos, Jenny Ritchie, Catherine Cole; three of the Right Side team - Sudarson Karmaker, Shanahan Cox, Miguel Baptista Cartaxo

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