Engineering Team from Imperial College London Makes it to the Final of the Engineers in Business Innovation Competition
Led by twenty-one-year-old student Carolina Gomes, a team of engineering students from Imperial College London has secured a place 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.
Carolina is joined by 21-year-old Gregory Hargraves, 22-year-old Nina Moutonnet, 21-year-old Sergio Gosalvez, and 21-year-old Visva Moorthy, all of whom are final year MEng Biomedical Engineering students.
The team has invented Paige, the world’s first affordable, multiline braille display, and will be pitching their innovation against nine other teams of student and graduate innovators in the national final. A total 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 is sponsored by 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.
Paige – A World-First Set to Change the Shape of Access to Literary for the Visually Impaired
Braille is essential for the visually impaired to access information and develop literacy. However, nearly all refreshable braille displays are limited to a single line of text making them unsuitable for content that requires context, such as mathematics, programming or sheet music. Existing products also have a high cost per braille character, resulting in displays that are prohibitively expensive (£500 to £10,000 per single line display). This presents a barrier to braille literacy and education.
Paige is the world’s first affordable, multiline braille display featuring 18 lines of braille. It is radically different from existing alternatives and offers braille displays for as little as £300. It was the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, the biggest distributor of braille displays across Africa, that first sparked the team’s interest in solving this global issue as Gregory explains:
“When we were presented with the problem that visually impaired people only have access to single line, expensive braille technology, we were all motivated to design a product that would enable affordable access to braille worldwide. Being engineering students, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for visually impaired people to study context-dependent subjects and deliver a product that serves them in their daily lives.
The Engineers in Business competition is designed to inspire engineers to study business and innovation. Gregory continued, “Teaching business innovation skills to engineering students is very important, as it shows them how to bring their innovative ideas to market. We started working on Paige two years ago and although we had a prototyping plan rolling very quickly, as bioengineering undergraduates we did not know how to turn our idea into a viable, marketable product. It was only by participating in a business ideas competition that we learnt basic concepts, such as how to draft a business canvas or how to create a pitch deck. Being taught business innovation skills from an early stage in our degrees would have made our journey easier.”
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, Carolina and her team will have six minutes to convince the judges, through their presentation and Q&A session, that they 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 impact of Paige on the daily lives of blind and partially sighted people.
The members of 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
Carolina and her team will be competing for an Engineers in Business Champion of Champions title against nine other teams from Aberystwyth University, University of Birmingham, University of Exeter, University of Aberdeen, Nottingham Trent University, University of Nottingham, University of Portsmouth, University of Sheffield, and the University of York.
Commenting on the importance of reaching the Engineers in Business Champion of Champions Final Carolina said, “Winning one of the awards would give us extra key tools to transform Paige into a viable, marketable product; reach as many braille users as possible; and allow them to experience the world’s first affordable, multi-line braille display. Braille is literacy and we’re dedicated to achieving affordable access to braille worldwide.”