Three Women to Watch in Cleantech

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Jemima Heard
5 Mins

Elizabeth Yu, Founder of Onsee

Elizabeth is an Alumni of Imperial Business School, and lived in many cities around the world before settling in London. She founded Onsee in 2019 with co-founder Crispian. She credits her background in business development, growth hacking and project management for giving her the experience and drive needed to start Onsee.

She realised the need for safer streets in London because of her own anxiety about the city's traffic and attitude towards cyclists.

"I used to cycle during my university days in Boston and absolutely loved it - it got me around the city quicker than a car, and was a great form of exercise. When I first moved to Lonodn, I found the road environment very intimidating and even though I'm not new to city cycling, I was afraid to get on a bike. My co-founder, Crispian ...understood my fear, but with some advice and convincing he was able to get meto start cycling again ...

From our first hand experience and speaking to the people around us, we realised that our vision of cycle cities across the world will not come to life until we have tackled the safety barrier stopping people from getting on bikes."

Onsee's first product, REBO ,is a smart bike light and camera that records journeys, number plates, and willbe able to communicate near-miss data to local authorities. Sustainable Innovation are working with Onsee to test some elements of the REBO device, such as durability and data upload capability.

REBO is currently being trialled by bike courier companies throughout Europe, and has been feasibility tested in Oxford. London's trial is due to begin soon. Onsee have also been awarded agrant by Geospatial Commission and Innovation UK to develop the AI aspects of thedevice, which will allow automatic identification and analysis of near-misses. This data can then be used to identify hot spot areas and make roads safer for cyclists.

Read more about Onsee's REBO and Elizabeth's journey in her interview.

Onsee was formerly named Pelation during the period of collaboration with SBI.

Hansa Shree, Founder of ComfortBreak

Hansa is a serial entrepreneur with a BSc in Biological Sciences from Imperial College London. She is currently completing her DeepTech Dictorate of Philosophy (DPhil) at University of Oxford. Hansa is passionate about reducing health inequalities and building healthier communities.

ComfortBreak was founded after a make-a-thon hosted by MSF (Médecins Sans Frontieres) Doctors Without Borders. The company are producing reusable incontinence wear so that women can be healthier, at a lower cost to their wallet and the planet. Sustainable reusable santitary products is an important part of fixing inadequate santiation, which is a leading cause of poverty across the world.

The business originally focused on solving the global issue of period poverty, but pivoted towards incontinence following feedback from 10 international NGOs, as well as a delegation of the First Lady of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sanitary items generate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste each year, and the average Western woman will spend around £5,000 on these products over a life time. Many of the items are as much as 90% plastic, so do not decompose, and end up in landfill, sewers and seas. In developing countries, access to these products is extremely limited, forcing women to use unsanitary replacements and even dehydrate themselves to avoid social shame. Sadly, incontinence poverty is not just a developing world issue.

Additionally, incontinence can have severe health and social impacts for afflicted people. Urinary incontinence in women (who are much more likely to be affected) is typically caused by dysfunction of the bladder or pelvic floor muscles. This is often related to pregnancy, childbirth or menopause.

Contrary to popular belief, incontinence is not a normal part of ageing or child bearing. Widespread misconceptions - perpetrated by sanitary wear commercials and even TV shows that joke about incontinence in older women - cause many women to delay seeking medical attention. In developing nations, it is not uncommon for women to have no access to healthcare at all. This means that only a minority of women receive effective therapy.

Find out more about Hansa's journey developing these vital products here.

Kristen Tapping, Founder of Go Rolloe

Kristen is a LSBU graduate in Product Design, and Product Design Engineer. She is using her experience as a Design Engineer in the automotive sector, and passion for cycling in London, to develop a bicycle wheel that filters outdoor air pollution using only the rider's energy.

"By regularly cycling around London, I was exposed to how bad air pollution is by seeing and smelling smoke from exhaust pipes. I think we forget about how bad it is, because it is mostly invisible. By conducting further research on the issue, I realised that it has a massive impact on people’s quality of life, causing a staggering number of premature deaths all over the world."

 Kristen is passionate about retrofitting as a solution to consumption, using data to establish market fit (and need), and solving real-world issues.

"I would like to see more innovative ideas that solve actual problems ... 90% of the ideas I hear have already been made, do not address a specific need, or are not commercially viable. Do some research, make some quick and dirty prototypes, and ask your market for their true opinion."

Kristen is newly enrolled onto the Sustainable Innovation programme, but has been working with LSBU for a while. Following huge amounts of interest from the media, local authorities and private companies, she's aiming to launch her wheels in city pilots by October 2021.

Read more about Kristen's journey and her innovative wheels here.

Sustainable Innovation provides free business and product development support, as well as R&D grants, to businesses creating new-to-market products that will reduce carbon emissions. Find out more.

Want to hear more about more female enterpreneurs being supporting by South Bank Innovation? Check out Four Women to Watch in Foodtech, which highlights the brilliant ideas of members from our LAFIC programme.