A team from Queen’s University who are going to develop a range of outdoor lighting made from bamboo and sell to raise money for homeless children in the Philippines are the winner of Belfast City Council’s student enterprise competition.
Team Ee-law won the ‘Make it to Market’ challenge after beating three other student teams shortlisted to pitch their product ideas to a judging panel in City Hall this week.
The competition was funded by the Council, Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.
The student business competition challenged individuals and teams of students to design and prototype a product. Ten teams were selected to develop product ideas with four teams then chosen to build prototypes in the fabrication laboratory FabLab in the Ashton Centre, north Belfast.
Ee-law will now have their winning ‘Light for Light’ product manufactured in the Philippines to be sold in the UK to raise money for Ten Foundations, a NI based charity working to help homeless children living in the Philippines through the building of ten orphanages.
The team from QUB – made up of students from the Management and Archaeology Schools – described their product: “Our concept is to create outdoor and indoor lighting which can be sold here and in the Philippines. The primary material we will use is bamboo and we have selected this material as it is grown in abundance in the Philippines. Other materials will include up-cycled waste such as glass.
“Through the production of our lighting, we intend to bring clear solar energy into rural Philippines – this would be achieved through a solar light donation scheme.
“The concept would therefore be ‘every time you buy light you are helping to create light in the developing world’ – a powerful message,” the team added.
The team has already raised over £400 through a Just Giving webpage set up to raise money for the Ten Foundations charity.
Congratulating Ee-law, Councillor Deirdre Hargey, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Development Committee, said: “This is a wonderful product idea from an excellent team of students and I wish them every success in selling it and raising money for Ten Foundations to support its Livelihood Programme in the Philippines.
“I want to also congratulate the other three teams who were selected to pitch their product ideas at City Hall and wish them well in developing their concepts in the future.
“Make it to Market was an exciting initiative as it gave students and would-be entrepreneurs the chance to gain unrivalled enterprise experience.
“The importance of good business planning, healthy competition and promoting a business idea effectively was something they endeavoured through the challenge similar to a real-life experience of running a business.
“Our city’s young entrepreneurs are certainly bursting with talent and enthusiasm, something that the Council hope to encourage and develop in the years to come to ensure Belfast is a vibrant, sustainable and innovative city,” she added.
The other three teams were Synergy; Mini E-Co and Cre8ives – made up of students who attend Belfast Metropolitan College.
Their ideas were to produce soap made from palm and coconut oils and scented with Filipino flowers; tipis that could be used a child’s educational tool in the Philippines and a range of jewellery from re-using plastic bags discarded as waste in the Philippines.