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University projects in the running for new Bristol Genius Award

15 May 2012

The University of Bristol is behind half of the projects shortlisted for the Bristol Genius Award – including degradable chewing gum, hydrogen fuel cells, sustainable water projects and a community food growing initiative.

The University of Bristol is behind half of the projects shortlisted for the Bristol Genius Award – a new initiative to celebrate great ideas which make people’s lives better.

Bristol Festival of Ideas today announced the six projects which have been shortlisted for the accolade, beating off strong competition from over 40 entries.

The three projects linked to the University of Bristol, and shortlisted because they best exemplify Bristol as a city that excels in ideas which have the potential to change lives for the better, are:

  • Children of the 90s (officially known as ALSPAC - Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children): a long-term research project that has collected and analysed data from families over the past 21 years, initially recruiting 14,000 pregnant women. It provides a rich resource for the study of the environmental and genetic factors that affect health and development.
  • Micrima: a spin-out from Bristol University which has developed a new method for breast-screening women using radiowave radar technology that is non-invasive, inexpensive and can be used in a doctors’ surgery.
  • Rev 7: degradable chewing gum that’s being manufactured by Revolymer Ltd, another spin-out company from the University of Bristol. Rev 7 is environmentally friendly and easily removable.

PhD students Stewart Kettle and Sarika Seshadri, from Bristol University, are also involved with FRANK Water, a small team of ethical entrepreneurs, researchers and field workers who save lives through funding innovative and sustainable clean water projects in developing countries.

The final two shortlisted projects are Bristol Hydrogen Boats Ltd, for its ferry powered from a hydrogen fuel cell which is currently undergoing trials, and Edible Landscapes Movement, a project which brings together volunteers, residents and local organisations in Knowle West to grow food for the community and develop new skills.

Lynn Molloy, Executive Director of ALSPAC, said: “We are delighted that all the participants in Children of the 90s have been recognised in this way because without their amazing dedication and commitment this remarkable Bristol project would not be the international science success story it is.

“Born and bred in Bristol 21 years ago, the project has made a significant contribution to healthcare practice and policy and will continue to do so as the study expands to include the fathers, children, brothers and sisters of all the original children.”

Professor Terence Cosgrove, the inventor of the compound used in Rev 7 and Leverhulme Professor of Physical Chemistry at Bristol University, said: “Rev7 degradable chewing gum was developed in partnership between the team at the University of Bristol and Revolymer, the North Wales-based polymer company.

“The remit was to develop a gum that was both degradable and removable, benefiting the environment and helping mitigate the major problem of chewing gum litter on the streets. The gum has now successfully launched in the US, and is available in over 4,000 stores. It received European Food Safety Authority approval early this year, and is expected on British shelves in the summer, which we are very excited about.”

Andrew Kelly, Director of the Festival of Ideas, which has organised the Bristol Genius Award, added: “We sometimes don’t celebrate enough the great ideas that are generated and developed in Bristol on green initiatives, in health, education, in communities, in business, in our universities and cultural organisations. We want to recognise and provide a profile for this work through this new award and are delighted by the response we have had and by the quality of the shortlisted projects.”

The winner will be announced at the Bristol Festival of Ideas prize evening on Monday, 21 May. The Bristol Genius Award is in association with BBC Bristol and The Post.

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