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RS Innovators Championship rewards sustainable technology innovators

02 June 2023

£10,000 first prize awarded for a water filter that could benefit two billion people who lack access to clean water.

RS has announced the winners of the RS Innovators Championship, a global competition encouraging young designers to develop their problem-solving skills, whilst considering the impact on the environment and the project or product lifecycle.

The RS Innovators Championship was launched in October 2022. Young innovators, aged 18-30, were tasked with working together in teams of their choice to design solutions that align with RS’ ESG goals and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

The teams were given the option of five challenges that could help transform how the industry currently operates. First, the teams submitted a written application and video to explain their ideas. 

They then developed them during six weeks of masterclasses and mentoring by leaders from RS Group, and finally pitched them to a panel of judges through a virtual showcase.

NextGen Engineers of South Africa won the first prize of £10,000 with a modular four-layer stacked gravity filter using a combination of rock and sand to mechanically remove impurities. 

The filter materials are efficient, inexpensive, easily available worldwide and non-polluting. Potential beneficiaries include some two billion people worldwide who lack easy access to clean water.

The second prize of £5,000 went to Pili Seal of the Philippines for a hybrid sealant made from waste materials that offers effective adhesion and sealing for the aviation and construction industries, particularly on sheet metals. It is resistant to moisture and high temperatures, non-toxic, and cost effective. 

The Three Sustaineers of the UK claimed the £3,000 third prize with a standardised component rack designed to reduce single-use plastics in packaging. 

The rack has no drawers; instead, a range of RS PRO consumables, such as nuts, screws, standoffs, washers, and cable ties, are supplied in durable cardboard boxes that fit straight into the rack. 

The RS Innovators Championship offered the teams a choice of five development challenges, which could help transform how that industry currently operates: 

1. Technology to deliver real-time training in over 32 countries in their local languages
2. Water filtration technology to collect wastewater from a Divya hand-cranked washing machine and reuse it for cooking, cleaning, or agriculture
3. Reusable packaging to maximise the protection of products in the global supply chain without harming the environment
4. Extending product lifecycles through repair services rather than replacement 
5. Stock picking and packing technologies to make distribution centres more efficient and meet increasing demand

Isabella Mascarenhas, Vice President of RS Grass Roots Education & Social Impact, commented: "We would like to thank all the teams who entered the RS Innovators Challenge and, in particular, to congratulate the prize winners and finalists. A wealth of sustainable innovations has been developed because of this competition."

RS Grass Roots, the youth and social impact team, aims to create valuable opportunities, activities and experiences for students and young people all around the world, bridging the gap between university and the workplace. 

To read the full story, please visit RS's website.

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