The Cranfield Colworth Innovation Challenge took place recently for the sixth year running, culminating in a final round where Cranfield students pitched their sustainability solutions to industry executives and academics.

Over 140 students started the process, forming cross-discipline teams to address real-world challenges to tackle climate change, reduce waste and support the transition to net zero.

Teams were formed to address the challenges set by innovation-focused multinationals Unilever, dsm-firmenich and Symrise, together with Pioneer Group, owners of Colworth Science Park.

Nine teams made the shortlist, and over the final five weeks of the challenge they received intensive support and mentoring from the companies themselves, Cranfield’s Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship , and the Centre for Design Engineering .

The competition final, hosted at Colworth Park, saw each team given a tight deadline to pitch their ideas to an expert judging panel.

The winning teams

Goshen designed a multifunctional drone for effective precision farming - students Alessia Paoletti, Gbubemi Akporhonor, Hao Jiang, Matteo Morandi and Shubham Kumar Singh came together to develop the idea.

Greenwave, who provided a solution for a comprehensive liquid waste treatment strategy at Colworth Park involved Antony Reuben, Bhagyashree Chunekar, Francis Sankah, Sheilla Constance Apio and Sirisha Venkatesh.

Irradiance with a proposal to help Colworth Park understand and reduce energy consumption, brought together students Akshay Dalal, Hippolyte Sucche, Putcharapan Ammarabai and Rory Dick.

The Cranfield prize was awarded to Conscious Farmers for their practical solution bundled with excellent team work especially during the Q&A section. The students involved were Jefferson Tan, Koli Akpet, Mohamad Al Jabban, Prateek Goel and Shivangi Chaturvedi.

Challenge a great opportunity for students

Keith Purdie Commercial Director at Colworth Park said: “This is the first time the park has been involved in this competition and it has had a really positive impact in terms of fostering better working relationships between the key stakeholders that have taken part in it.

It has been brilliant to host these students here, they have been a real credit to the university in terms of their engagement, energy, and the ideas they have brought in this evening”.

Professor Stephanie Hussels , Director of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship, said: “The Cranfield Colworth Innovation Challenge encourages collaboration among students from disciplines right across the University. It promotes teamwork spanning multiple fields, nurtures entrepreneurial capabilities, and through partnerships with multinational corporations, offers students a fantastic opportunity to directly apply their acquired knowledge to tackle tangible real-world problems. Congratulations everyone for your compelling ideas and great presentations!”