Students interpret theme of ‘Design for a Natural World’

The six students who have just been revealed as finalists of the 2021 Design Innovation in Plastics (DIP) competition, have demonstrated the excellence of design faculties within our universities – according to the competition judges.

DIP, which is supported by the Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining, and the Worshipful Company of Horners, and headline sponsored by Covestro, challenged the students to come up with a brand new product made primarily from plastics which would commonly be used in the outdoor environment.

Announcing the final six, from an original, near record submission of entries, chairman of judges, Richard Brown, said the quality of work and thought which had gone into the entries presented by the finalists reflected not just their own intelligent research, but the quality of their universities and tutors.

“The very open brief for this year’s competition of ‘Design for a Natural World’, enabled a wide interpretation, and we’ve had everything from habitats for animals in nature, to products for use in the natural environment, as well as more esoteric interpretations stretching the boundaries of the brief,” he said.

“What is clear, is that a good number of entries – our finalists in particular –  have grasped the need for sustainable products in the natural world and also researched the damage the human race is doing to the environment, and it is probable the current pandemic has increased that awareness.  Our final six have understood the brief, which emphasised sustainability, quality and recyclability, and we are looking forward to see how they progress their designs in time for final judging on May 28.”

The students who have made it to the final are:

Pol Blanch – Brunel University

D-Shield: a semi-translucent foldable shield that minimises spray drift, blocking pesticides from drifting during application.

Christopher Farrell – Technological University Dublin

ClearWater: a handheld water quality testing device for the presence of chemicals in water, due to run-off from land, providing on the spot testing for several chemicals in one go.

Euan Gibson-Smith – Glasgow School of Art

ReCreate: a monthly educational service enabling children aged 7-11 to convert plastic waste into recyclable outdoor products.

Pradip Gurung – Brunel University

Stratus: a wildlife collar specially designed to prevent illegal poaching of big cats.

Finlay McEwan – Glasgow School of Art

Equipoise: a reusable plastic gas canister for outdoor cooking, with a stand designed for stability on rough terrain.

Andrei Petrar – London South Bank University

AER Drone:  a fully autonomous drone which can be deployed in an emergency to alert rescue services.

In line with continued coronavirus restrictions, the final judging will take place on May 28, via video conference, and the overall results will be announced in early July.

The winner will be invited to Germany to visit headline industry sponsor, the leading polymer manufacturer, Covestro, when coronavirus conditions permit. In addition, the winner and the remaining five finalists will each receive a short industry placement with one of the competition sponsors: [Brightworks, Innovate Product Design, PDD and RJG Technologies.] along with cash prizes.


Established in 1985, Design Innovation in Plastics is the longest running student plastics design award in Europe. For more information visit www.designinnovationplastics.org 

The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) is a major UK engineering institution and is the professional body for the advancement of materials, minerals and mining to governments, industry, academia, the public and the professions. For more information visit www.iom3.org

The Worshipful Company of Horners is one of the oldest livery companies in the City of London and was formed to regulate the horn-working trade. In 1943 it adopted its modern equivalent, the plastics industry. For more information visit www.horners.org.uk

Headline industry sponsor – Covestro
About Covestro:

With 2020 sales of EUR 10.7 billion, Covestro is among the world’s leading polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative, sustainable solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. Covestro is gearing itself completely to the circular economy. The company’s main customers are from the automotive and transportation; construction; furniture and wood processing; and electrical, electronics, and household appliances industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health, and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 33 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,500 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) as of the end of 2020.

Other competition sponsors:

Brightworks: an award-winning UK product design and development consultancy dedicated to helping other companies develop the best products for their customers, their markets and their brands

Innovate Product Design: specialises in helping individuals to protect, develop and commercialise their new product ideas and inventions

PDD: provides integrated design and innovation skills, working with organisations worldwide to develop novel products, services and business processes that drive revenues and create competitive advantage