University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Novel Materials win Pitch for the Planet 2024

Ada Carpenter

ByAda Carpenter

May 13, 2024

Two teams with ideas to produce or use sustainable fabrics have each won £5000 in project funding in the Pitch for the Planet competition. On 24 April, four teams stepped up to present their ideas for sustainable products, projects, or developments in the fourth annual competition held in the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA).

The event was hosted by actor and climate finance activist Will Attenborough, and entrants were judged by Sussex Pro Vice Chancellor for Education and Students Professor Kate O’Riordan, Exeter professor and Sussex alumnus Dr Andrew Morgan, Sussex Business School lecturer Dr Shova Thapa Karki, and Lucy Hughes, Sussex alumnus and founder of MarinaTex.

The first winning idea was presented by Senamile Sishi, MSc Energy and Climate Policy, who along with teammates Zanele Sishi and Michael Asante, is building a sustainable fashion business called StitchedByZan. They plan to use hemp fabric, waterless dyeing techniques, and traditional prints to boost their environmental and human sustainability. After the results were announced, Senamile told The Badger: “My pitching journey started last year at the Ideas Lab and Startup Sussex. I attended all the sessions, wrote, and pitched. I made it to the finals but didn’t win. However, I want to say, ‘Don’t be afraid of failure, just go for your dreams.’ With £5k, I’m excited to make things happen. I’m going to start by testing materials, developing market research, and searching for additional ways to run the business effectively. Excited to see the next step!”

The second winner was Arham Rahim, MSc Artificial Intelligence and Adaptive Systems, who is developing a chemical process to repurpose waste rice husk into vegan leather. She has already been testing the material, and passed out samples to judges during her presentation.

The other teams were also praised by the judges for their creativity, presenting ideas to review and improve Sussex’s sustainability policies, and to develop the use of coconut shells for packaging. 

The winning teams will be supported as part of Sussex’s summer Startup Accelerator program, which aims to assist aspiring entrepreneurs across the University.

Leave a Reply