COVID-19 Update - 08 September 2020

University of Sheffield Students win 20,000 Public Votes for the Best Innovation in the Engineers in Business Competition

A team of five engineering and computer sciences students from the University of Sheffield romped home with the Engineers in Business Competition People’s Prize of £500 - after two weeks of intense online voting the team notched up more than 20,000 votes from the public for its agricultural innovation, SeedSense. The team beat nine other university teams to be named the most popular innovation.

The students, Ameerul Aiman Shahizam, Anas Nazha, Jack Maskell, Conor Cullen and Kane Dervan, won the People’s Prize for a new crop management method for farmers. Called SeedSense, this uses autonomous field robots to monitor soil and plant conditions to give a targeted response in terms of water, fertiliser or pest control, thereby minimising waste and creating food security. 

Team member, Jack Maskell who grew up around farming, said: “I was always surprised at the inefficient way that crops are sprayed. Spraying pesticides and herbicides uniformly wastes money, damages the environment and has a negative impact on crop health. Our solution to this problem benefits farmers, the environment and also increases crop yields, making agriculture more profitable and more sustainable.” 

“In a world where natural resources are becoming scarcer, it is vital we minimise our impact by using biodegradable seed sensors to monitor farmland and offer precision agriculture to help minimise costs and protect the environment.” 

Commenting on its astonishing number of votes Ameerul said: “We're honoured to receive this award, especially considering the amazing projects presented.  We've learned so much throughout this process, both from each other and the speakers at the grand final. We'd like to give a huge thank you to the 20,000+ people who took the time to vote for us and for the various departments at The University of Sheffield for showing their support on social media."

The Engineers in Business Competition, which awarded the prize provides prize funds that are integrated into partner universities’ existing offering. The students who take part and win a prize in their university competitions then enter the EIBC Champion of Champions Final for a chance to win further seed funding. SeedSense won £1,500 in the university competition and was subsequently shortlisted to participate in the Engineers in Business grand final, winning the People's Prize.

The EIBC prize fund is provided by Engineers in Business Fellowship whose patron is Lord Sainsbury of Turville. EIBF’s President, David Falzani MBE, explained the rationale for awarding universities £700,000 over four years for business ideas competitions: “Research tells us that introducing business education to young engineers and technologists makes them better engineers, makes them more employable, more effective in the workplace and it is better for the UK economy. What is exceptional about the young engineers and technologists who are engaging with business ingenuity is that they are developing concepts while in education and many go on to develop real businesses that tackle problems in society. They are bringing new technologies to people and will create jobs."