Red Button win 21st Century Challenge Competition

Published: 4 December 2007

Students from Glasgow University and Glasgow School of Art have won Oxford University's 21st Century Challenge Competition for their innovative water transport, sanitation and storage device.

Red Button Design have won Oxford University's 21st Century Challenge Competition for their innovative water transport, sanitation and storage device.

Entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, policy makers, academics, corporate guests, sponsors and competitors gathered at the Saïd Business School in Oxford for the annoucement this week. The judges awarded a prize of £35,000 cash to Red Button Design for their Reverse Osmosis Sanitation System (ROSS) which addresses a problem faced by millions of people – that of finding safe, uncontaminated drinking water. The ROSS system allows its users to collect water from the nearest source, contaminated or not and sanitise it for drinking and bathing use. The user would roll the ROSS unit to the water source and fill the 50 litre tank. The water passes into the unit through a prefilter and then as the device is rolled back to the point of water usage, the rotation of the wheels drives a gear set which moves a filtration membrane through which the water passes and contaminants are removed.Red Button 2

In addition to providing clean water the device prevents the user having to make such long journeys and reduces queuing at clean water sources, saving time and energy and promoting health.

Steve Rayner, Director of the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilisation at Saïd commented: ‘The competition exemplifies what the School stands for, bringing together business with social and environmental issues that address the problems we are faced with in the 21st Century. The strength and quality of submissions was outstanding and the overall winner was selected on its ability to meet certain criteria; the scale of the problem being addressed; the impact of the individual business on problem solving; and for its simplicity and elegance’.

The 21st Century Challenge, the largest such competition in the UK, is designed to encourage commercial solutions to help solve the major social and environmental challenges of the 21st Century.

More than 180 entries were received from 23 countries. Participants had to submit a five page business plan focusing on one of the three challenge tracks. Three finalists were drawn from the entries to each track and the nine finalists then went forward to the grand final event and pitched their business plans to a panel of judges.

Red Button Design is made up of James Brown, Nicky Pang who are both studying Product Design Engineering on a joint course run by Glasgow University and Glasgow School of Art and Amanda Jones, a Glasgow University philosophy graduate.

The judging panel for the grand final comprised:

Professor Steve Rayner, James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization (Chair)
Rob James, DFJ Esprit
Keith Evans, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Jonathan Guthrie, Financial Times
Wendy Hart, Grant Thornton
Ravi Kapur, NESTA
Antony Ross, Bridges Ventures
Nicholas Pitts-Tucker, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC)
Richard Sanders, Permira

For further details please contact the Saïd Business School Press Office:

Clare Fisher, Head of Public Relations, Saïd Business School

Telephone: +44 (0) 1865 288851   Mobile: +44 (0) 7912 771090



First published: 4 December 2007