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Glasgow students sweep the board at product design awards

Winner creates self-powered cleaning device for feminine products

July 05, 2024


Congratulations go to students from Glasgow School of Art, who have achieved an unprecedented clean sweep, filling the first three places in this year’s Design Innovation in Plastics (DIP) competition, with their brilliant off-grid products.

Graham Lacy -  PDD Innovation (placement sponsor); Jake Lee – 2nd; Isabel Payne – winner; Hugh Pizey - Glasgow School of Art tutor; Alastair Swanwick - Innovate Product Design (placement sponsor);  Jem Mitchell, 3rd, is pictured further below

The results were announced by Dr Barry Maunders, Master of the Worshipful Company of Horners, in a nail-biting morning of anticipation at the award ceremony, which was held at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.


DIP, supported by The Worshipful Company of Horners, the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) and headline sponsored by Covestro, is the longest running plastics design competition of its kind for university undergraduates in the UK and Ireland. 


This year’s contestants were asked to design an off-grid product for independent living, aimed at either leisure or household markets, and to be made primarily of plastics. The panel of industry judges admitted to being blown away by the quality of the designs produced by this year’s finalists in what had been a very challenging brief.

First prize went to Isabel Payne, a Product Design Engineering student, from Glasgow School of Art, who created SafiCase – a device for cleaning and steam sterilising re-usable menstrual cups, using minimal water.   The case is entirely self-powered, using a solar battery for the sterilising circuit, and is targeted at women who want something to use when they are nowhere near an electricity source, or any running water. It is collapsible so can be carried easily. 

She wins £1,000, a placement with a DIP sponsor, a year’s membership to the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) and an invitation to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet as a guest of the Worshipful Company of Horners.


Chairman of judges, Richard Brown, said: “This is a great solution to safely clean a menstrual cup without power, and to maintain hygiene.  This product uniquely addresses the off-grid challenge, and meets a very clear social need, not just for the traveller but also, for example, displaced people living in refugee camps.  It was very well researched and is a worthy winner with a product idea that could be commercialised.”


Isabel said: “It means such a lot to have a platform for dealing with the issue of period poverty, which is rarely spoken about, despite affecting so many people worldwide and around 40 per cent of women in the UK. I hope this design helps bring awareness for reusable options, and helps other people decide to invest time in designing more solutions, as there is very little innovation in this area.”


The judges awarded second place to Jake Lee (Product Design Engineering) also of Glasgow School of Art, for his product ‘SkinTemp’, a cold-water temperature sensor that alerts users to dangerous drops in body temperature.  It is powered using the temperature difference between the user’s skin and the cold water using what is known as the Peltier effect. He wins £750 and a placement with a DIP sponsor.


In third place was Glasgow School of Art’s Jem Mitchell, also a Product Design Engineering student, who produced ‘Sentree’, a solar powered sonic deterrent that protects trees from being overgrazed by animals such as deer. The product uses foil sensing interfaces, which interpret and respond when an animal tries to eat its bark or leaves. Jem wins £500 and a placement with a DIP sponsor.


Highly commended awards go to:

·        Gargi Agrawalla (Product Design and Technology), Loughborough University, with ‘Ear Boost+’, a compact healthcare case that dehumidifies cochlear implants and charges their batteries simultaneously, while being powered independently.

·        Brandon Hopkins (Product Design), London South Bank University, with ‘Saltbuoy’, a free-drifting oceanographic data buoy powered by salt-water batteries.  It collects real-time data for pollution, weather and climate research.

·        Joe Shade (Product Design), De Montfort University, with ‘Bijou Smart Hive’ – a smart beehive using solar power and sensors to monitor the conditions of the hive and the bees to keep them healthy and productive.

All three highly commended recipients receive a cash prize of £250.

Dr Barry Maunders – Worshipful Company of Horners; Kate Harrison – IOM3; highly commended finalists: Gargi Agrawalla, Joe Shade and Brandon Hopkins;  Andrew Forkes – London South Bank University tutor; Steve Gormley – Covestro UK

Richard Brown added: “All the finalists showed they have the skills to bring new, innovative and functional products to market.  Creativity and invention is alive in our future designers, demonstrated in the many entries we received overall.”


We’d like to thank our sponsors, IOM3, The Worshipful Company of Horners, Covestro, and our placement sponsors, Brightworks, Innovate UK, PDD and Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, for their continued support, and also to our media partners, British Plastics & Rubber, Mould Technology and Materials World for letting everyone know!


At DIP, we are already looking ahead to next year, so take a look at the 2025 brief, which is up on this website. 



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