Unplastic: Cambridge University Enterprise iTeam

Cambridge, United KingdomCambridge, United Kingdom
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Cambridge University researchers looking to commercialize new technology that transforms plastic into ethylene glycol 100 times quicker than any current biodegradation. Collaborate with us to make this available to the world and offer plastic bags exciting future!

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

Plastic bags could be turned into useful raw material instead of filling the landfill?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Environmental issues related to waste management of plastic materials, such as film and plastic packaging that is currently not separated or recycled and is piled in landfills instead.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our innovation is able to transform plastic into glycol (antifreeze) within hours rather than months.


not yet
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

reduce landfill size and turn plastic into useful raw material that can be used for production or more plastic, fabric, antifreeze, etc.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

So far the impact is research based, we need funding for additional research and commercialization in the next 3 years. Our team is currently contacting potential collaborators and very positive feedback is received so far.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Moving forward we hope to collaborate with recycling companies and plastic legislation bodies to improve plastic reputation of plastic as a material as it will no longer have a problem of disposal.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Currently contacting many different areas of the industry to find strong collaborators. Working to have initial backing by December 2015.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Chemical plastic degradation processes and incineration processes that burn down the plastic. This is more expensive and energy consuming than our proposed method which is also naturally occurring and environmentally friendly.

Founding Story

Our team is a group of Cambridge PhD researchers who have teamed up lead by our innovator. We are working to get the funding this term as part of the iTeams enterprise project. So far we have received positive feedback from our project leaders and from the industry on the full potential of this project. The project started through some experiments in the lab where the phenomenon was observed by accident in a naturally occurring environment.


We have a full cross functional team of PHD researchers from different backgrounds including MBA graduates. Our inventor is a leading specialist in the field along with his colleague. We also have an industrial expert as our project leader who has experience in many start ups and start up investments. We are looking to fund 2-3 full time researchers to work full time on this project for 18-36 months.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

poster in the engineering department

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

part of the team working with the founder, my role is in strategy and marketing on this project

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I completed my MBA with a dissertation on innovation and have completed several relevant training courses.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We have 3 advisors with start up and investor experience on our team. We have a consultancy currently working on patenting the innovation and we have a mentor on our team also.