Plus X Brighton
On Tuesday the 12th November, we held our first ever Disruptors competition at Unbarred Brewery in Brighton.
As part of our mission to accelerate the rich talent of the city, this Dragon’s Den inspired event brought four startups together to pitch their game-changing sustainable product ideas. The entrepreneurs went head to head in front of four judges and an audience for the prize of six months of desk space, access to specialist prototyping workshops and business and product development mentorship at Plus X Brighton.
It was Lucy Hughes with her sustainable material innovation, MarinaTex, who won the hearts and minds of both the judges and the audience.
MarinaTex is a home compostable material designed as an alternative to single-use plastic films. The material is comprised of waste material from the fishing industry and organic binders sourced from the sea. This disruptive and versatile material has global potential:
“From bags to single-use packaging, MarinaTex has a variety of different applications. The transparent film is well suited for packaging and will biodegrade in a soil environment. The organic formula does not leach harmful chemicals and can be consumed, causing no harm to wildlife or humans.” – Lucy Hughes, MarinaTex
Lucy has already had global recognition for her innovative use of this abundant waste stream. In the short weeks since winning Disruptors, she has won the International James Dyson Award, been featured in The Guardian and The World Economic Forum and has sat on a panel with The United Nations for their Innovation Talks at the 2019 Fisheries Symposium in Rome.
As the winner of Disruptors 2019, Lucy will receive six months support from Plus X Brighton to develop the material and accelerate her business strategy. Lucy will also be expanding the MarinaTex team and recruiting her first intern, fully funded by Santander Universities.
“Its amazing. I really didn’t expect to win against so many other great companies” says LucyHughes. “The Plus X support will make all the difference, having the mentorship and someone to hold my hand through the scary world of startup”.
The Disruptive Finalists
It was a tough decision for the Disruptors judges as the finalists all had highly valuable solutions to tackling environmental waste, each entirely unique to the other.
Soaked, Hollie and Ella, founders of Soaked, have designed refillable shampoo and conditioner bottles to last. With their circular refillable pouch system, they are cutting down on single-use plastic bottle waste whilst still ensuring ease of use of their product.
Soaked were selected by the judges and audience as second place and will get two months of desk space at Plus X Brighton, a deep-dive mentor session focusing on their business development and a fully funded intern from Santander University.
Gomi Design who take flexible plastic waste deemed “non-recyclable” and design and craft visually unique portable speakers. Through brand collaborations, they also work with companies generating plastic packaging waste to help them design products using their waste.
ReManuFactory’s local hub will create a solution to local plastic waste by reprocessing plastics into beautiful, profitable and circular economy designed products. Inspired by Brighton itself, their first product will be eyewear frames with matching cases for glasses and sunglasses. Modular for ease of customisation and repair, these frames will be traceable using new nano-barcoding.
So, who was on the panel?
Editor and Founder of internationally recognised Startups Magazine, Daisy Stapley-Bunten was on the stellar line-up of specialist judges. An entrepreneur in her own right, Daisy was inspired by London’s entrepreneurial tech culture to celebrate the bravery of UK startups, giving them a platform to connect the dots through the monthly digital and print magazine. “Startups Magazine champions tech startups – the entrepreneurial heroes disrupting industries and the creators challenging norms and breaking boundaries.”
Holly Price is the South East’s Relationship Manager for Santander Universities, the bank’s main CSR programme. Holly’s position with Santander is dedicated to nurturing the upcoming generation of entrepreneurs from universities based across the South East of England. “My role is to ensure we are focussed on helping students, graduates, staff, academics and their communities prosper”. The bank’s CSR programme has global impact through investment in education, spanning twenty countries and over one-thousand universities.
Women of Wearables CEO, Marija Butkovik, brought her wide-ranging industry knowledge. The launch of the global Women of Wearables platform has seen her supporting, connecting and mentoring women and diverse groups in wearable tech, fashion tech, health tech and IoT. “WOW’s mission is to encourage more women and diverse teams to participate in building hardware and software products as designers, product managers and developers, or being founders of their own companies”. Marija has been featured in major tech and business publications such as Forbes, TechCrunch, The Next Web and Huffington Post. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 she was selected as one of the Most Influential Women in UK Tech by Computer Weekly.
And finally! Our very own Plus X Co-CEO, Mat Hunter, offered a wealth of knowledge in product design and UX. Mat started his career in Silicon-Valley with world renowned innovation agency IDEO, working with startups and corporates to pioneer digital products and services. He has been Chief Design Officer at the Design Council and is a recognised thought-leader, lecturing at both design and business schools.
Disruptors is not just a local competition. It is a spotlight on positive social and economic impact.
Brighton is a hub for inventive and creative business. Through wider connection, collaboration and celebration, Plus X innovation hubs will support and nurture local business and community, driving prosperity, social and economic success across the UK.
We’re now excitedly focused on taking Disruptors to a national level.