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Young entrepreneurs design innovative solutions to ‘Save our Seas’ and solve real world plastic and toxic waste threat

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has named the winners of its global engineering challenge, which tasked young entrepreneurs to develop an innovative solution to help clean up the estimated 18 billion pounds of increasing plastic waste that enters our oceans each year.

Partnering with Greenpeace and GreenSeas Trust, the IET set two very different challenges, looking at reusable packaging in supermarkets and tackling the trillions of cigarettes currently in our waters, with teams needing to solve one of them to be in with the chance of working with organisations that can make a real difference.

The winners include:

  • GreenSeas Trust scenario – Team Baywatchers from Oxfordshire made up of Helena Livesey (25), Jonathon Witty (24), George Fulton (23), and Alexander Morgan (25) has developed a crab-like robot concept, KRABB-E, which has been designed to collect cigarette-butts from UK beaches.
  • Greenpeace scenario – Team NanoMalaysia from Malaysia made up of PhD students Ivan Ling (27), Pauline Phoon Bao Lee (28), Tan Chin Joo (28) and Ong Chong Cheen (27), has developed a new approach, PICAS block, which provides an alternative for packing dried, loose food products by using carrageenan and starch to create dissolvable food blocks, in the hope of significantly reducing the amount of plastic waste from supermarkets.

Baywatchers Team member Helena Livesey, who is a Mechanical Design Engineer at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, explains: “We wanted to enter as we thought the challenge could have a real positive and global impact and we’re delighted to have won! We were quite surprised but glad all of our hard work has paid off.

“Engineering and technology is so vital to help tackle environmental change – we can use it to fix problems that we’ve already caused – like with the use of KRABB-E – but also to monitor and inform new technologies, helping to change behaviours and how we interact with our environment.”

NanoMalaysia Project leader Ivan Ling, says: “We’re extremely honoured to be chosen as the winner for this prestigious award. We never thought a small team like ours would have the chance to travel to the UK – it’s very exciting. We plan to develop the PICAS block further and hope to have it commercialised in the near future.”

Science, nature and environment presenter Liz Bonnin, says “Plastic is everywhere, it’s in our oceans and in the air we breathe, and is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. The science is irrefutable, we need to drastically reduce plastic production and consumption to safeguard the future of wildlife, our children and our planet. The IET’s Global Challenge is seeking to find solutions to this crisis and it’s incredibly heartening to see young entrepreneurs creating innovative designs to be the change the planet needs. The Baywatchers’ KRABB-E and NanoMalaysia’s PICAS block are tackling the problem from different angles - which is exactly what we need if we are going to give the natural world a fighting chance. I’m excited to see how these concepts progress.”

Dr Peter Bonfield, IET President, added: “This competition is all about giving young engineers a platform to highlight their innovations. By shining a light on a particular problem we’ve found that engineers think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions.

“I’d like to congratulate Baywatchers and NanoMalaysia for their fantastic concept. Previous winners of this challenge have gone on to see their innovations become a reality, so this is a great way to make a difference and solve a real-world challenge.”

The winning teams from both challenges will receive a £500 cash prize, trophy and an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the IET's prestigious Innovation Awards ceremony in London where their winning solution will be revealed to the audience. If you’d like to attend the awards, please book your place at

For more information, visit and follow the challenge on social media #IETSaveOurSeas.



Notes to Editor:

The challenges

The Greenpeace challenge required teams to think of ideas for reusable packaging designs or new approaches that enable supermarkets to dramatically reduce the need for packaging in the first place. According to Greenpeace, our oceans are slowly turning into a "plastic soup” with part of the problem being single-use plastic. This means that huge amounts of plastic, which can take hundreds of years to break down, are entering our oceans.

GreenSeas wanted teams to tackle the trillions of cigarettes currently in our waters, the number one item found on beach clean-ups. Teams are challenged to create a remotely controlled all-terrain machine that can move up and down the beach, picking up cigarette butts from the surface of the sand and collecting them in a chamber or hopper.

About the IET

Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.

  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 169,000 members in 150 countries. It is also the most interdisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
  • For more information, visit
  • Follow the IET on Twitter.


Media enquiries to:

Rebecca Gillick
External Communications Manager
T:  +44 (0)1438 765 618 (x5618)
M: +44 (0)7725 498 129

The GreenSeas Trust winner - KRABB-E, designed to collect cigarette-butts from UK beaches.

The GreenSeas Trust winner - KRABB-E, designed to collect cigarette-butts from UK beaches.

The Greenpeace winner - a PICAS block, providing an alternative for packaging dried, loose food products.

The Greenpeace winner - a PICAS block, providing an alternative for packaging dried, loose food products.