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University students across Ireland invited to enter sustainability competition 

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University students across Ireland invited to enter sustainability competition

  • Circle-P students are winners of the prestigious 2023 bio-based innovation student challenge 
  • Third-level students across Ireland are invited to design imaginative nature-based solutions that contribute to a sustainable and circular economy for 2023/24 edition of the European competition

MTU, Tralee, Kerry, October 11: Circle-P, an ambitious student project dedicated to utilising biorefineries for the recovery and recycling of phosphorus from industrial wastewaters, secured victory as the Irish winner of the 2023 Bio-Based Innovation Student Challenge – Europe (BISC-E).

The competition unfolded at Tangent, Trinity University's Ideas Space in Dublin, where two formidable teams battled it out to represent Ireland in the European arena. 

A panel of judges, composed of industry and academic experts from BiOrbic, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Circular Bioeconomy Research Group at Munster Technological University (MTU), evaluated the technological and economic feasibility of the competing projects. 

Up against Circle-P was Bioluminescent Plants, which focused on gene manipulation in plants to create sustainable bio-lighting sources. Both sets of students explored the potential of natural ‘bio-based’ materials to address known future challenges.

The 2023 Irish champions, Shon George Shiju, Eanna Dowling, and Brian Mattimoe from MTU, earned the opportunity to represent Ireland against twelve European teams. While the overall winners of the BISC-E 2023 competition were BioAroma, a French team lauded for their innovative approach to sustainably producing 2-PE through novel fermentation processes, Circle-P's outstanding contribution garnered well-deserved recognition.

The BISC-E, hosted by the Bio-based Industries Consortium, invites interdisciplinary teams of university students across Europe to design imaginative solutions that contribute to a sustainable and circular economy. These innovations address technological, environmental, or societal challenges in Europe's journey towards sustainability, emphasising a 'bio-based' approach, using materials derived wholly or partly from renewable biological sources.

The Irish leg of the competition is now open for the 2023/24 edition, commencing on October 1. This competition welcomes all university students in Ireland, including those in their first year of Ph.D. studies. 

Zoe Rush, Education and Outreach Manager of IKC3 at MTU, said, "The BISC-E competition offers students a valuable chance to apply their expertise and skills towards tackling the pressing sustainability challenges of our time.

 “The bioeconomy is rapidly developing in Ireland, as society shifts towards nature-based products and services. We are committed to nurturing interdisciplinary teams, fostering entrepreneurial skills in design and innovation for the bioeconomy, and providing guidance on impact analysis and effective communication."

An online Introduction to the BISC-E session is scheduled during Bioeconomy Ireland Week, from 1-2pm on October 19th, designed for Irish university professors and students keen to explore this exciting opportunity. For further details about the competition and registration for this event, please visit the Irish Knowledge Centre for Carbon, Climate & Community Action (IKC3) website, which hosts the information about the Irish BISC-E.  

Ireland's Knowledge Centre for Carbon, Climate & Community Action (IKC3) proudly serves as the national coordinator for the Irish BISC-E, with support from BiOrbic, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DFAM), and the CircBio Research Group. IKC3, a research project led by Munster Technological University (MTU) in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD), addresses skill gaps within industry and civic society to facilitate a transition to low carbon futures.

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