UCL student wins London mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition

Tech startup CarbonTrac, founded by a UCL student, has won the tech award in this year’s prestigious entrepreneurial competition held at London’s City Hall.

The startup, which aims to make sustainable grocery choices easy and rewarding, won £20,000 in funding from the competition plus mentoring to help bring their product to market. Four other UCL teams were also in the finals.

The Mayor of London’s Entrepreneur Competition is open to London students and recent graduates who’ve set up businesses or have an idea for one. The annual competition awards funding, in particular to support new ideas designed to make London cleaner, greener and ready for the future.

CarbonTrac was founded by UCL final year chemical engineering student Yasmine Abdu. The startup is supported by UCL Innovation & Enterprise via their Hatchery incubator programme at BaseKX, UCL’s dedicated entrepreneurship hub in King’s Cross. Here Yasmine has access to tailored advice and mentoring as well as free office space to help kick start her business.

Yasmine said her venture aims to promote a more sustainable future by helping consumers make sustainable choices while grocery shopping.

The AI service collects data from suppliers and assigns traffic light ratings to products based on their carbon footprint. Customers shop as usual, scan their loyalty card, and access CarbonTrac through the supermarket app to see how eco-friendly their purchases were, receive suggestions for greener alternatives and earn rewards for making sustainable choices.

Yasmine said: "Winning the tech award in the London mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition this year is an incredible honour.

"It not only validates the hard work and innovation that I put into the project but also provides me with new opportunities and connections to grow CarbonTrac.

"I look forward to building the final product, expanding our data resources, and launching in our first supermarket chain.

"I’m extremely grateful to the team at UCL Innovation & Enterprise for their pitch training workshops, advice, and support throughout.

"Being part of the UCL Hatchery incubator program at BaseKX has transformed CarbonTrac from an idea into a business and I highly recommend the program to anyone with a vision. I’m excited to build on this achievement and help cut UK emissions, one supermarket chain at a time."

This year’s competition rewarded innovative ideas in four categories: the creative industries, environment, health and tech. 334 teams applied and 20 were chosen to take part in the finals, with five of the proposed ideas coming from UCL.

All the finalists, from universities across London, were each invited to give a two-minute pitch to an expert judging panel at City Hall.

The other four UCL finalists were:

Tech finalist, Medly AI offers adaptive, curriculum driven AI tuition. Founded by Gu-yun Jung (UCL Medical School, graduating 2024) and Dr Kavi Samra (UCL Medical School 2021). Also part of the Hatchery incubator programme managed by UCL Innovation & Enterprise.

Environment finalist, Phytavaren Technology: develops interlocking thermal bricks to tackle building energy loss and thermal comfort. Team members: Jasarin Klaysuk (first year PhD Chemistry), Kongphat Phaiboonnukulkij and Kolatat Phaiboonnukulkij.

Health finalist, Reconnect: transforms London’s nightclub spaces during the day to offer masterclasses and social events for older people. Team members: Connie Kiew (first year History), Joyce Wai Yi Sze (first year Information Management for Business), Sabrina Yiyao Song (first year Statistics, Economics and Finance), Evelyn Kwan (first year Management Science), Henry Kangning He (first year Management Science), and Rohan Bharadawa (first year Economics with placement year)

Environment finalist, Medusa Materials: turns CO2 into biogenic additives to concrete, reducing cement use and storing sequestered carbon.

Team members: Sofia Iglesias Lobatch (BSc in Bioprocessing of New Medicines with Business 2022 and MRes in Synthetic Biology 2023), Veronika Rattaj (BSc in Bioprocessing or New Medicines with Business 2022) and Samuel Plesnik (BSc in Theoretical Physics 2022).

Last year tech startup upLYFT, co-founded by UCL and Imperial College London students, won the competition’s health award.

UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement) Professor Geraint Rees said: "Congratulations to CarbonTrac and all the finalists. It’s wonderful to have so many UCL teams in the final and to win a category for the second year in a row.

"Our students’ success in these awards reflects the high-quality support and strong entrepreneurial community here at UCL.

"It’s great to see so many students and graduates coming up with ideas to tackle issues in areas like retail and the environment - ideas which are applicable across the globe not just to London."

Ruth Weir, Head of Entrepreneurship, UCL Innovation & Enterprise, said: "Having five teams from across three of the four categories in this year’s final is testament to the breadth of entrepreneurial talent at UCL. All current students and recent graduates can benefit from our free extracurricular activities and hatchery programme, regardless of study, experience or interest in entrepreneurship. Congratulations to CarbonTrac and all the other finalists, we look forward to seeing where all the businesses go next.

Over the last 10 years more than 540 new student startups and more than 70 spinouts were started at UCL. Collectively they have raised over £3.8 billion in investment and currently employ more than 4,300 people.

Nick Hodgson

nick.hodgson [at] ucl.ac.uk

+44 (0)20 3108 1667
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