Chicken feather insulation start-up crowned Varsity Pitch champion

Former Imperial College student-founded Aeropowder receives £10,000 investment and “world-class” mentorship

Aeropowder, a company that turns chicken feathers into insulation, has been announced as the winner of the annual Varsity Pitch competition, which recognises the best new UK business started by students.

Founded by former Imperial College students Elena Dieckmann and Ryan Robinson, Aeropowder transforms thousands of tonnes of waste feathers from the poultry industry into biodegradable thermal insulation blocks and other materials.

The company has received £10,000 in funding and access to sessions with a “world-class” mentor to guide its growth.

Now in its seventh year, over 300 students and recent post-graduates entered the 2016 Varsity Pitch competition, with judges from Tata Limited, Vidsy, Shell LiveWIRE, Seedrs then selecting a shortlist of 30.

This was whittled down to seven finalists, who took part in a business boot camp before competing for the grand prize in front of 130 entrepreneurs, investors and public figures.

Ryan Robinson, Aeropowder co-founder, said: “Winning the NACUE Varsity Pitch Competition is great because it shows that other people take our message about sustainability and reusing waste so seriously. There’s a lot of hard work left to do, but we are feeling proud to have achieved this win.

“We’re looking to spend the £10,000 on scaling up our business. There are some key bits of machinery that will enable us to build full sized pieces on a small scale volume wise, which will allow us to approach the right customers and generate the right kind of interest.”

Ashish Gangrade, a Varsity Pitch Judge, added: “It was a very challenging decision, we went into overtime when making a decision. I think all of the ideas are very strong and all of them have very big chances of success but we were attracted to Aeropowder because they are innovative, going after a large market and are very sustainable.”

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