Supporting young entrepreneurs in the bioeconomy

As part of the THYME project, BioVale and the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) invited BIO-HEX to a one-day entrepreneurial workshop after seeing their innovative biobased idea pitched at the University of York’s 2019 The Big Deal enterprise competition.

BIO-HEX was set up by four students from St Wilfrids Catholic High School in Pontefract, they were the winners of the enterprise competition for students in Years 9 or 10 who are interested in enterprise. Their prize was a trip to New York, where they pitched their idea to executives at Google.

BIO-HEX is a Hydroponic Plant Growth System which allows customers to use less water than usual plant growing methods as soil is not required and a variety of substrates can be used, cotton wool, wood pulp, etc. This means the plants germinate faster and stronger and utilises less space than conventional growing methods. Unlike other hydroponic products, their design is perfect in the home or school environment.

BIO-HEX uses a hydroponics system called Deep water culture (DWC). Plants are bedded in pots above a nutrient solution in a tank and roots grow down into the solution, the solution is oxygenated allowing for absorption of nutrients.

During the workshop, BDC, BioVale and BIO-HEX discussed the importance of moving away from a linear economy of take, make, use and waste to the circular bioeconomy – using renewable living things such as plants, animals and microbes to produce food, energy and other materials. Reducing our dependency on non-renewables resources like oil and coal as well as cutting the amount of waste we produce.

From the BIO-HEX inventors, there was a demonstration of how their technology worked before they were given specific mentoring from the BDC and BioVale around business support issues such as intellectual property and communications advice. Going forward BIO-HEX is looking to develop their prototype further.

Lloyd, Harry, Louie and Alan from BIO-HEX said, “A big thanks to BioVale for the brilliant opportunity and for giving us a tour of the hydroponic growing facilities, it was a great chance for us to discuss our product and its future scale up opportunities”.

BIO-HEX has kindly left the device in the Bioeconomy Outreach Centre. Based at the BDC, this is an innovative exhibition of everyday products made from renewable materials which aims to inspire companies and provide an educational learning space for school groups and teachers.

The workshop formed part of the outreach activities of the THYME project, funded by Research England. The THYME project is a collaboration between the Universities of Teesside, Hull and York to boost the bioeconomy across Yorkshire, the Humber region and the Tees Valley. The Big Deal competition runs annually for students in Years 9 and 10, supporting talented students in exploring business and enterprise. For more information about how schools and businesses can get involved in The Big Deal, please contact thebigdeal@york.ac.uk.

Find out more about BIO-HEX.

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