Solar powered torch invented by Cambridge University students

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19/05/2017

It may not sound like the most useful of devices, but a solar-powered 'torch' was one of the prize winners at Cambridge University Entrepreneurs' business plan competition.

The annual event dishes out £5,000 prizes to best business ideas developed at the university, with three different categories for entrants: software, science and technology, and social enterprise.

In the latter category, the winning team was Halo, a spin-out from the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride (obviously) developing a solution to bring lighting to the 1.2bn people in the world without access to electricity. A further one billion only have intermittent access, and they often use kerosene lamps instead, which have the potential to cause serious respiratory illness and are pretty terrible for the environment.

Halo's idea is a new type of LED produced on a silicon wafer, making it a lot cheap than convential LEDs. It is worn on the arm and powered by a solar panel just 4cm by 7cm. Apparently this can produce more than 30 lumens of light, perfect for indoor tasks. The unit cost is expected to be around $8. Clever, eh?

In the software section, which was sponsored by local firm Geospock, the winner was Heterogenous, a company looking to provide researchers with better access to genetic data sets, while the science and tech prize went to Cambridge Cancer Genomics, which uses neural networks and machine learning to track the development of cancer tumours and devise personalised treatments.

All the winning the winning teams will be heading off on a trip to Silicon Valley as a reward for their hard work, while the social enterprise stream finalists will receive support from Allia as they look to build their businesses.


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