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Wolverhampton university researchers clinch second place in global science competition

University researchers from Wolverhampton have clinched second place in a global competition.

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Pictured left to right Onkarr and Dr Johnston

A team led by Dr Brian Johnston, research associate in polymer chemistry, working with Iza Radecka, professor in biotechnology, took part in a virtual debate and presentation with teams from around the world at the Discover Future Materials Innovation Program.

The team from the University of Wolverhampton were runners-up in their category for their work with Essity, a leading hygiene and health company.

The Discover Future Materials Innovation Program, organised by German-based, ekipa, is a global initiative that invites creative and visionary individuals to develop sustainable solutions in the field of materials science.

A total of 97 participants from 30 countries submitted 39 ideas to address real-world challenges posed by industry leaders Essity, Weleda, and Voestalpine Railway Systems.

Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company that develops, produces, and sells personal care, consumer tissue, and professional hygiene products.

The company was formed in 2017 as a spin-off from the Swedish hygiene and health company SCA.

Essity is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and operates in approximately 150 countries with around 46,000 employees.

Its success as a household name is due to its broad range of high-quality hygiene and health products that are used by millions of people every day. The company's popular brands include Tena, Tempo, and Plenty.

Dr Johnston and Onkarr Sandhu, a computer-aided design in construction graduate of the university and current business owner, took part in the event as Team: Plastic Fantastic.

They developed and submitted a creative and innovative solution to the challenge "Future of efficient Bio-PE" for Essity, a business valued at over £14 billion.

Dr Johnston said: “The solution involved designing a reaction chamber for waste plastics with existing infrastructure for further chemical processing and polymer modification.

"It was great to hear from the organisers that we demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, taking ownership of the innovation project, and driving it to success. They also said that we showed amazing problem-solving skills by submitting a novel and scientific concept, complete with CAD designs and a life-cycle analysis of the materials.”

After being selected out of all the international participants, Essity executives attended an exclusive coaching event to develop the team’s pitching skills.

Plastic Fantastic pitched their final solution in front of company representatives and clinched second place in the overall international competition, narrowly missing out on the top spot to Amar Source Ltd, an engineering team of 12 who focus on technology research and development and are based in Dhaka, Bangladesh.