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Protect the environment and preserve biodiversity

Biodiversity is in crisis according to many reports in 2018. Professor David Macdonald CBE DSc FRSE, at Oxford University, is quoted in the Guardian as saying “Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity”.

We've heard much over the past year or so about the plight of bees and the alarming fact that without bees to pollinate, we will have no fruit, nuts and vegetables. It’s not just losing bees that we need to worry about; all insects matter. They’re predators of pests, decomposers of waste and form the base of the many wild food chains that support ecosystems.

Biodiversity extends beyond bugs and bees – new types of medicine are harvested from nature, for example. Decreasing biodiversity even has an effect on the economy: biodiversity loss in Europe costs the continent about 3% of its GDP, or €450m (£400m), a year.

Engineering and science is also working to address environmental and sustainability issues in agriculture. In March this year, a team at the University of Glasgow found a new, more efficient way to reduce water use and improve plant growth.

 

YES alumni have also generated revolutionary solutions to help protect the environment and preserve biodiversity

Alcoa (University of Manchester) developed a method of cocoa production from algae. There is a growing deficit between production and demand.

BioPhosphate Solutions (University of Bristol) provided a service to sewage treatment plants to sustainably and economically filter polluting phosphate from wastewater. This system generates a by-product that is sold as a phosphate-rich fertiliser, relieving dependence on mining the dwindling global phosphorus reserves.

Palm Solutions (NERC GW4+) isolated an enzyme which converts cellulose waste from anaerobic digesters to palmitic acid, the main component of palm oil present in everyday products.

Plastexe (University of Exeter) pioneered a sustainable, biodegradable plastic alternative for use in the agricultural industry.

SporeDeTech (East Malling Research) invented a novel in-field fungal detector for early detection of wheat fungal pathogens.

Phyto-Switch (University of Sheffield) have developed the world’s first RNAi delivery system capable of selectively inducing drought resistance in corn.  This product is cheaper and more effective than any GMO seed alternative and will ensure farmers the best yield and return on their crop regardless the earth’s increasingly unpredictable climate.

What’s your innovative idea for #YES19?

For the Plant, microbial and environmental workshop hosted at Syngenta, remember your challenges are as follows: 

  • Improving biodiversity in a farmed landscape
  • More effective disease management
  • Reducing usage of water, fertilisers, chemical inputs
  • Sustainable food production
  • More effective pest control
  • Sustainable liquid fuel production
  • Technologies transferable to smallholder farmers
Find out more about #YES19
 

Young Entrepreneurs Scheme

  • Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Nottingham University Business School
  • Jubilee Campus
  • Nottingham, NG8 1BB