A start-up business founded by students at the University of Bristol has won £10,000 to develop technology that could potentially halve food waste in the education sector.
KnoWaste has developed a digital food management system for schools, colleges and universities that it believes can dramatically cut the 150 million tonnes of food they throw away each year – at a cost of £250m.
The company’s app allows diners to to pick their meals for the week, meaning caterers are able to determine demand in advance and not be forced to overproduce. The platform also informs diners about the environmental impact of each meal they choose.
KnoWaste, founded by students Sophie Elliott, Edward Stratton, Charlie Royle and Kesta Kemp, saw encouraging results from trials of the technology at primary schools in Bath and Truro, in Cornwall.
The four entrepreneurs have now won part of a £25,000 funding pot at the University of Bristol’s Runway Entrepreneurship Competition to turn their idea into a business.
They estimate their innovation could help reduce academic institutions’ costs by 6%.
Kesta Kemp, an anthropology with innovation student, said: “Winning this award takes KnoWaste to the next level. We can now further develop our technology for the roll out in September.
“Although still in its early stages, our waste management technology has the potential to massively reduce food waste, all while saving institutes time and money.”
KnoWaste was one of 14 projects exhibited by students at the university’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Students study a traditional subject with an extra emphasis on using what they learn to find creative solutions to social issues or to develop commercial opportunities.
Hywel Rose and Hugh Hamilton-Green of H2 Nutrition won £8,000 to develop a plant-based cereal that’s high in protein and fibre and low in sugar.
Kira Goode and Monica Wai of C.U.P won £7,000 to work on a menstrual cup cleaning and sterilising case, which encourages women to dispense with single-use period products.
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Presenting the awards was Simon Pillar, a University of Bristol alumnus and co-founder of Australasian investment firm Pacific Equity Partners.
Mr Pillar said: “It was terrific judging such great ideas, all of which have potential to make a real and lasting impact on the world.
“Picking the prize winners was not easy but KnoWaste’s clear vision for a product that can create change, starting at a very local level with the potential to scale up across customer segments and geographies, really impressed us.
“I would like to thank all of the students for their great ideas and the work that has gone into these pitches, and on behalf of all of the Runway panel we are looking forward to seeing how they develop in the future.”
Graduates of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship include Amber Probyn and Hazel McShane, who recently won £15,000 to progress their design of a women’s urinal to help cut queues at events such as music festivals.
Tom Ellson, director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said: “Over the five years since the inception of the centre our students have continued to exceed our expectations with their creativity and drive.
“In the past month alone Hazel and Amber’s female urinal has featured in hundreds of news stories around the world, showcasing the power of innovation to millions of people.”