The Fourth Annual Rotary Club of Canterbury Innovation Competition took place in The Old Sessions House at Canterbury Christ Church University when the10 students shortlisted (from the 101 who entered written submissions) were invited to make oral presentations to the panel of judges.
In his very warm welcome Dr John Moss, Dean of Education at the University, stated that design and engineering are key to future development - both in the community and at the University. The competition was then officially opened by Sharon Jordan following her induction as the first lady president of the 95 year old Rotary Club of Canterbury.
The standard of presentation this year was extremely high with all competitors showing their technological skills during their five minute presentations; each presentation was followed by challenging questions from members of the judging panel.
The wide range of ideas included a ring to measure pulse, heart rate and blood pressure, an inflatable protective sleeve for first aid kits for use in sports injuries, a clip with retractable cord to attach to mobile phones to prevent them falling (with resultant cracked screens), creating homes from old shipping containers aimed at the student market, a straw which detects if drinks have been spiked, molded insoles for ski boots, a mechanism to stop children actioning the seat belt release, and an auto page turner for pianists controlled by a tablet.
Following their deliberations the panel of judges - Dr Harry Cragg, David Bailey and Chairperson Dr Julie Reza - announced their decisions. The winner of the first prize of £300 was Lawrence Coomber from Simon Langton Boys School for his 'clip on coasters'. His idea was a coaster that attached to glasses or cups and so overcame the issue of continually moving your coaster to avoid marking tables while you worked; in addition, the coaster provides stability to the glass or mug and can be colour coded as desired for personalised use. It could also be used as a merchandising tool for businesses if given the business branding.
The runner up (who received £100) was Oscar Cornall for his 'easy gripper' clothespegs, designed to assist those with arthritis and/or those who only have use of one hand, to enable them to hang out washing more easily. He had developed a prototype that had already been used and approved by his grandmother.
The Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor Rosemary Doyle, accompanied by the Lady Mayoress Jennifer Yonge, joined the major sponsor of the event, Bill Brett (Chairman of the Brett Group), in handing out the winners' cheques. They expressed their admiration of all the participating students.
Dr Gary Robinson, Senior Commercialisation Manager at the University of Kent, addressed all the students, again speaking very highly of the quality of their presentations. He gave ideas and suggestions about protection of their products, know-how, copyright, patents, trademarks and industrial designs. He encouraged all students to continue with their efforts from the excellent platform which they have all established.
Rotary Club of Canterbury President, Sharon Jordan, closed the event by thanking Dr John Moss for the use of the excellent Old Sessions House facility, Dr Gary Robinson for once again giving his time and experience, the Kent Messenger Group for their assistance, and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress for attending the event. The teachers, pupils and those presenting from the participating schools along with the excellent support staff from the University were also included in her vote of thanks. Her final thanks went to Rotarian Brian Dobinson for all his work over the four years of this event and to the club members who had supported the event by attendance.
The Rotary Club and the University are keen to expand this annual event to a much wider area next year to include the full range of secondary schools both in Kent and beyond.
Photo: Winner Laurence with his cheque. Picture credit: Simon Langton Boys School.