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Plastic Award student back from successful placement with Bayer in Germany

Newbury, April 28 - A British design student has spent a week at Bayer’s headquarters Germany after winning a design innovation award.

Dan Watson, from the Royal College of Art, took first place in the Design Innovation in Plastics 2010 competition with an idea he initially developed while a student at Glasgow School of Art.

The brief for the 2010 competition was “Refreshing Design” - to create a product that was suitable for mass production, that was value for money, innovative, and one that captured the spirit of the times.

Dan’s winning entry was a trawl net that improves sustainability and lowers the environmental impact of bottom trawler fishing.

The result of his hard work was a placement with one of the world’s largest producers of polymers and high performance plastics, Bayer MaterialScience, located in Leverkusen Germany, as well as £1,000.

“The whole trip was like nothing I've experienced before and it was amazing to be able to see inside such a large company and how it works internally as well as how it communicates with the outside world,” said Dan. “The whole operation is extremely professional and it was great to see how innovative Bayer is being in relation to social and environmental issues.”

Sustainable fishing

Dan initially got the idea for the fishing net whilst reading a magazine article about Scottish fishermen having to throw surplus fish back into the water in order to meet their quotas. His initial thought was “How can we solve this problem?”

He endeavoured to create a more sustainable fishing net based on the behaviour of fish under stress.

Whereas endangered fish like cod and plaice swim downwards, therefore making them able to escape through large mesh netting, less vulnerable fish like haddock and whiting swim upwards where the netting is usually tighter.

Another important element of his design was the use of durable, plastic rings that were large enough to let young fish escape.


The Design Innovation in Plastics 2010 competition judges assessed that Dan’s net design adequately matched their pre-requisite for a refreshing design. Martin Sixsmith, chairman of the Design Innovation in Plastics organising team, said: “The theme of the 2010 competition was Refreshing Design, and I believe this adequately challenged student designers and design engineers to create a product that addressed economic and environmental concerns but all the while maintained innovation.

“Dan’s entry tackled issues associated with sustainability and a reduction in the impact of fishing, but other entrants looked at water conservation, composting, sports injuries, giving up smoking, and carrying back-breaking loads on building sites. The competition takes place annually and it is impressive to see so many exciting ideas year on year.”

Design Innovation in Plastic is launched in October each year and is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students registered at a university or college in the UK.

The 2011 Award is already well underway. Seventy six entries were received from 19 universities across the UK and Northern Ireland with six finalists selected. Final judging for the 2011 competition takes place on 26 May with the awards ceremony on 1 July.

Dan added: “Design Innovation in Plastics is a great competition for students and I wish the best of luck to all of this year’s finalists, and I have no doubt that whoever ends up going to Bayer, you will have a fantastic time there.”

Andrea Postles, Tel. 01635 563 031
E-Mail: andrea.postles@bayer.com

Craig Mowat, Tel. 01635 563 523
E-Mail: craig.mowat@bayer.com