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Engineering Student from the University of Birmingham Makes it to the Final of the Engineers in Business Innovation Competition

Twenty-one-year-old Joe Garrett, a Mechanical Engineering student from the University of Birmingham has secured a spot in the final of the Engineers in Business Champion of Champions innovation competition, which will be hosted by TV presenter Rob Bell at the Royal Academy of Engineering on 22 October 2021.

Joe Garrett invented AuraGen, a new way of generating electricity and will be pitching his innovation against nine other teams of student and graduate innovators in the national final. A sum of £15,000 is up for grabs, providing vital seed money to help the winners develop their innovation. The winners will also receive mentoring from business leaders who are members of the Sainsbury Management Fellows network, plus CV packages from Purple CV and entrepreneurial books from Cambridge University Press.

The competition organiser is the registered charity, Engineers in Business Fellowship which champions business education for engineers and supports universities by giving them grants to award prizes to students who develop ground-breaking ideas. The grants enable universities to inspire more engineering and technology students and post-graduates to participate in innovation and entrepreneurship, skills that they take into their careers. The world is changing rapidly, and these skills are vital to tackle challenging global problems.


AuraGen - A New Way to Generate Electricity on Your Roof!

AuraGen is a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) that can be mounted onto the pitched roof of residential or commercial properties to generate electricity. By using the elevation of the roof, AuraGen can reach faster, more consistent flowing air. The design uses a frame to mount AuraGen to the roof, distributing the loads and also allows solar panels to be added (hybridising the energy generation). By utilising the existing height of the building, AuraGen does not require a tall support structure. This increases stability, allowing AuraGen to employ a wider diameter turbine; boosting the power generated and its efficiency. VAWTs can generate power with wind from any direction and work in low wind speeds.

Joe’s brainchild will enable people to generate electricity that can be used domestically and potentially charge electric vehicles overnight. He explains how he came up with the idea: “While working with my father as a labourer one summer, I was struck at how much stronger the wind is on the top of scaffolding. Roll on a few years and I came across vertical axis wind turbines on my university course. Putting the two ideas together led me to try and design a turbine that could harness the untapped energy of the wind, and so AuraGen was designed. My innovation could increase the prevalence of renewables and de-carbonise domestic and low-level commercial electricity generation. 

“I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to learn more about business innovation at university. The rise of electric vehicles and companies like SpaceX shows that traditional engineering ideas are being challenged. Therefore, engineers with business knowledge are important to commercialise new technologies which could have positive impacts on the environment and socially.”

The Awards Presentation Ceremony – 22 October 2021

The live online dragons’ den style competition will be compered by TV presenter, Rob Bell. Competing against nine other teams, Joe Garrett will have six minutes to convince the judges, through his presentation and Q&As, that he should be crowned a Champion of Champions and take home a cash prize of between £1,500 and £8,500 depending on the award or awards received! Amongst other criteria, the judges will be assessing the potential positive impact of AuraGen on the environment.

The judging panel are:

  • Dr Andy Phillipps, Entrepreneur and early-stage tech investor and venture capitalist
  • Ana Avaliani, Director of Enterprise and Sustainable Development, Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Dr Jeroen Bergmann, Associate Professor of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
  • Serge Taborin, Government Digital Transformation, Amazon Web Services

Joe will be competing for an Engineers in Business Champion of Champions title against nine other teams from the Aberystwyth University, University of Nottingham, University of Aberdeen, University of Exeter, Imperial College London, Nottingham Trent University, University of Portsmouth, University of Sheffield and the University of York.

Commenting on the next stage of the competition Joe said, “I’m excited to have reached the final of the competition and look forward to presenting my idea to the judges and audience and hopefully turning AuraGen into a reality.”

Important Links

Watch AuraGen's pitch video