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PhD student outshines competitors at Bright Ideas competition

Posted on 02/03/2010

Prajwal Bhat

A Royal Holloway PhD student’s bright idea has won him £1,000 in a competition to find budding entrepreneurs.


Prajwal Bhat, who is studying Bioinformatics at Royal Holloway, University of London, entered the Bright Ideas competition, run by WestFocus Entrepreneurship Centre, which is designed to give students from any discipline the opportunity to deliver a business or enterprise concept, have it evaluated and be in with a chance of winning a cash prize.


Participants had to put forward an original idea and convince the judges of its benefits, covering issues such as who their business competitors would be, what turnover they could expect and what kind of investment they would need.


Prajwal’s idea focused on the paper manufacturing industry and boasts being both cost-effective and more environmentally friendly. Manufacturers currently use toxic chemicals in the bleaching process to produce newsprint and writing paper. His idea involves engineering an industrially robust organism such as yeast. Yeast is very adaptable to large scale industrial biotechnology and is also economical to grow. By using yeast, Prajwal suggests the use of the toxic chemicals can be reduced by up to 45% as well as saving manufacturers up to 30% in costs.


“I have a particular interest in applying science to find solutions to real life problems. I am involved in Royal Holloway Entrepreneurs and I’ve had this idea for a few years and this year I decided to compete. This idea provides a major economic incentive to adopt a more eco-friendly approach to paper manufacturing,“ he said.


The competition attracted more than 200 participants and Prajwal says he did not think he stood a chance of winning: “We were told at the beginning that if we win we would have to go up on stage and present our idea to the audience but I hadn’t prepared a pitch because I really didn’t think I was going to win. When they called my name I was very shocked and surprised and then had to work out what I was going to say when I got on the stage.”


To find out more about Royal Holloway entrepreneurs visit: http://www.royalhollowayentrepreneurs.com/


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