On Wednesday 23rd November 2011, 6 teams of postgraduate researchers and research staff displayed their work for the ACTION 2011: Sustainability Public Showcase Event at the Great North Museum: Hancock. Over 150 members of the public and invited guests interacted with the teams who presented their ideas to combat a sustainability challenge, developed over 9 months, for a chance to win £10,000 towards the development of the idea, or themselves as entrepreneurial researchers. Each team made a presentation to a panel of 10 academic and business judges who selected a winner based on clarity, viability, the solution provided, potential impact and the strength of the team. Prof John Goddard (Emeritus Professor of Regional Development Studies, Newcastle University) who attended the event found it ‘a fantastic initiative’ demonstrating the University’s approach to engaging the city.

The winning team, awarded the prize by Prof. Paul Younger (Director of Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability) was ZapZyme (Matthew Abbott, Chelsea Brain, Nithyalakshmy Rajarajan, Rekha Subramanian and Gabriel Uguru). ZapZyme demonstrated an enzyme-based cleaning solution to replace the current, non-sustainable method used in the brewing industry and other industries. They had engaged the international brewery company Heineken, who also attended the Showcase in support of the winning team. The judges said that “ZapZyme had a clear plan of action, had assembled the right expertise and industrial partners, they were well networked and their idea fits well with the sustainability theme of this programme; all of this achieved within 9-months”. The Runner Up Prize was awarded to TeraTura (David Alderson, Jared Bowers, Jennifer Harrison and Ryan Pereira) for their use of tourism as a vehicle to improve the accessibility of sustainability research to the general public.

We would like to congratulate all 6 of the teams for their achievement and efforts during ACTION2011: Sustainability; EasyTalk (Biao Zeng and Marin Marinov), PortaPower (Charlotte Bell, Wendy Carr, Thea Coward and Hilary Redden), RM3 (Zishun Ma, Fengyuan Shi, Wenfeng Duan and Hanxiong Zhang), SYNC (Paulus Aditjandra, Jonathan Heslop, Carmen Hubbard and Helen Kendall), TeraTura and ZapZyme.

The ACTION 2011: Sustainability Programme was developed and delivered by Bryn Jones, Gail de Blaquière, Elizabeth Scanlon and Katie Wray with support from the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council). Jo Clark (Assistant Director of HR, Newcastle University) described ACTION 2011: Sustainability as “an innovative and high impact approach to staff and student development”. At the Showcase, ACTION 2012 was launched with the theme of engineering and physical sciences in support of Social Renewal, Newcastle University’s Societal Challenge Theme for 2012.