Sheffield Team win the Engineers in Business Innovation Competition
Led by twenty-year-old Aerospace Engineering student Joel Rogers, a team of engineering students from the University of Sheffield has won in the final of the Engineers in Business Champion of Champions innovation competition - ‘big ideas’ category, which was recently hosted at the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Joel is joined by 21-year-old Computer Science student Chelsie Edun, 21-one-year-old General Engineering student Ellie Giulietti, 21-one-year-old Chemical Engineering student Shady Hamed, and 22-year-old Structural Engineering & Architecture student Jonathan Moniz, all of whom are co-founders of the venture Cycles 2 Vehicles (C2V).
The C2V team has invented EyeCycle, an AI-driven roadside camera designed to detect cyclists and alerts motorists of their presence and avoid accidents. C2V pitched its innovation against nine other teams of student and graduate innovators in the national final. A total sum of £3000 was awarded to the team, providing vital seed money to help them develop their innovation. The team will also receive mentoring from business leaders who are members of the Sainsbury Management Fellows network, plus CV packages from Purple CV and entrepreneurial books from Cambridge University Press.
The competition is sponsored by the registered charity, Engineers in Business Fellowship which champions business education for engineers and supports universities by giving them grants to award prizes to students who develop ground-breaking ideas. The grants enable universities to inspire more engineering and technology students and post-graduates to participate in innovation and entrepreneurship, skills that they take into their careers.
EyeCycle offers a multidisciplinary approach to cycle safety. C2V has designed infrastructure which detects a cyclist and alerts the car driver of the cyclist, hence reducing accidents at junctions. An artificial intelligence (AI) camera is placed at a junction with a blind turn or low visibility, detects a cyclist through various training, and sends a signal to a road sign to get the attention of the driver to raise awareness of cyclists and reduce the likelihood of collisions. EyeCycle keeps cyclists safe without the need for the car driver to do anything new, just to follow road signs as before.
Joel Rogers explains more about the inspiration behind EyeCycle: “When we originally set out to create an innovation that would help to improve cycle safety on our roads, we came across a shocking statistic that almost two-thirds of incidents where a cyclist is killed or seriously injured occurs at or within twenty metres of a junction. We decided that dangerous junctions would be the key area for our innovation to tackle. With EyeCycle, we hope to vastly reduce the number of cyclists killed and injured on our roads, not only within the UK but across the globe. We also aim to revolutionise attitudes towards cycling as well as encourage more people to take up cycling as a sustainable method of travel".
“As we’ve discovered during the last couple of months working on EyeCycle, business skills are very important. They’ve helped us analyse the problems with the project from different perspectives. Without the business skills to accompany an innovation, you lose the ability to market a product to the wider market.”
The Awards Presentation Ceremony took place on 22 October 2021 in a live online dragons’ den style competition compered by TV presenter, Rob Bell. Competing against nine other teams, Joel and his team had six minutes to convince the judges, through their presentation and Q&A session, that they should be crowned the Champion of Champions and take home the cash prize. Amongst other criteria, the judges assessed the potential impact of EyeCycle on cycle and wider road safety.
Joel and his team competed for an Engineers in Business Champion of Champions title against nine other teams from Aberystwyth University, University of Birmingham, University of Exeter, University of Aberdeen, Imperial College London, Nottingham Trent University, University of Nottingham, University of Portsmouth, and the University of York.
Commenting on the importance of winning the Engineers in Business Champion of Champions Joel said: "We are delighted to have won first prize in the Big Ideas category. It has given us motivation to further develop our concept into a product that could be rolled out nationally on Britain's roads."
"Winning this competition has greatly boosted our confidence as young engineers. To have approval from the panel of judges is a fantastic feeling. The money will be used to design and manufacture a prototype of the system, and then to initiate our pilot scheme. Our pilot scheme will give us hard data, which we can use to prove the viability of our system to customers and investors. We will explore ways to register our Intellectual Property for EyeCycle, this could be around display technology or methods of mounting the AI camera."