Congratulations to three Lower Sixth students who won the top prize of £10,000 in Samsung’s national Solve for Tomorrow Competition. The competition challenges young people to come up with an idea for a product, service or app that can make a positive contribution to society and the planet. 

The Design and Technology (DT) A Level students Joseph, Ben and Liam pitched OLEO, a device that removes microplastics from polluted water using waste cooking oil from fast food chains and restaurants. 

As well as winning the prize money in the 16-18 age category, the students will receive three months of focused mentoring from the Startup Discovery School, which helps young people become entrepreneurs. 

Liam says, “We chose to tackle the problem of microplastic pollution in the oceans and large rivers, since a seemingly tiny hazard can have catastrophic impacts further up the food chain. Our idea is to use waste to remove waste. The name OLEO comes from “oleophilic”, which describes how microplastics cluster together when mixed with oil, and of course, oil and water naturally separate due to their difference in densities.”  

Ben adds, “We asked the school canteen for their waste cooking oil for our proof of concepts and have seen that it has great potential. We did get a few funny looks though!”     

Joseph says, “We really hope we can further develop our idea and create an actual real-life product and business. Our confidence has been really boosted by the feedback from the judges and we owe it to ourselves to give it a good shot. The mentoring and workshops we participated in, organised by Samsung and the Startup Discovery School, have been instrumental in helping us refine our idea, create a narrative and come up with a brand, it’s been a brilliant process. We knew the competition was really tough, so are absolutely thrilled to have won.” 

Mr Currigan, Head of DT, says, “We’re all incredibly proud of Joseph, Liam, and Ben. They worked tirelessly on developing an idea that has genuine potential to help solve a serious global problem. I have been very impressed by the way they worked cohesively as a team and successfully used their knowledge gained studying Design and Technology and other STEM subjects to produce an innovative idea.  

“Their dedication has been further demonstrated by the fact that they will be using their winnings to continue to develop their product. They are worthy winners and I predict there will be many more successes in their chosen career path of engineering.” 

All three students are currently in the Lower Sixth studying for their A Levels but intend to pursue Engineering degrees at university. They will continue to develop OLEO alongside their studies. 

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