Catalysing Solutions, a team of five Lower Sixth students from King William’s College, reached the final of this year’s Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation Awards. 

The Awards are a global competition for young people aged 13-18 and were founded by Nancy Conrad to honour the legacy of her husband, Apollo 12 astronaut Pete Conrad. They challenge entrants to become entrepreneurs and apply innovation, science and technology to solve problems with global impact. This is the first time a team from KWC have reached the final stage of the competition and the first team from the Isle of Man to do so in many years.

The Catalysing Solutions team, made up of Christina Adcock, Catherine Atkinson, Anna Cregeen, Ruairi McNally and Ava Treutler, took up the challenge last summer looking at ‘Oceans: The Plastic Problem’, one of seven categories in the competition. They were inspired by time they had spent with Beach Buddies and the work done to protect our Island as a UNESCO Biosphere.

Their product is ‘DigestEZ’, a rubbish bin that uses plastic-eating enzymes to break down certain types of plastics.  As well the huge task of coming up with a product solution, the students also had to create a pitch, present an executive summary and take part in a live Q&A session with the judging panel.  The team have also applied for a patent for their idea.

Throughout the competition, the students have been supported by the ManSat group who sponsor Isle of Man teams every year, covering their entry fees and travel costs should a team reach the final, which usually takes place at the Kennedy Space Center.  Their support is vital in allowing young people on the Island to take part in this incredible competition.

Due to the global pandemic, rather than travel to the United States to take part, the students attended the summit virtually along with teams from all around the world. The event was split across three days (28th – 30th April) and ran on US time (EDT) meaning the KWC team ‘started’ their working day in the early afternoon and were working into the night until around 3am! Still, it was a rewarding experience with some excellent keynote speakers and a chance to network with similarly minded students from across the globe.

Catalysing Solutions were awarded the Social Media Award for their use of different platforms to explain their ideas and promote their product.

Head of Science Niall Howell Evans said,

“This is a massive international competition and the standard is incredibly high. I’m immensely proud of what they have achieved and I wouldn’t be surprised to see DigestEZ bins reaching the market in the future.”

If you’d like to learn more about their product you can view their channel: search ‘Catalysing Solutions’ on YouTube.

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