Students design vision for biotech applications

Three teams from RMIT University have been selected as finalists for the Biodesign Challenge Summit, held in New York City.

Two of the teams, Symbiome and Enzer, placed in the top nine of finalists, with Enzer winning the ORTA Prize for Bioinspired Textiles Processes, that was awarded to the team that explored sustainability in the fabrication and treatment of textiles.

Team Enzer developed a system that can remove microplastics out of the textile washing process.

The Kelpture team is designed to deacidify the southern ocean while producing biofuels that are carbon neutral.

The students who contributed to the Symbiome entry created a architectural bio-system to promote mangrove regeneration in Jakarta. The architecture of the designed building replicates the systems of a mangrove, desalinating and filtering seawater.

The competition encourages students to work with biologists, artists and designers to find common ground in addressing sustainability issues while working with biotechnology and imagining potential future applications for technology.

Industry fellow and lecturer, Dr Ollie Cotsaftis, noted how biodesign could open up new applications.

“By participating in the challenge, students have a chance to expand their horizons about what design is and can speculate about future applications of biotechnology,” said Cotasftis.

The broad number of fields which the Biodesign Challenge brings together promotes interdisciplinary collaborations to work between industries.

“These students are re-thinking everything from the future of food, medicine, architecture, and even fashion. Their visionary thinking will help pave the way for important changes across industries,” said founder and director of the Biodesign Challenge, Daniel Grushkin.

The potential for design to be applied in industrial settings was explored and widened throughout the challenge, as Kristine O’Loughlin, one of the students who made up the Enzer team noted.

“Participating in the Biodesign Challenge opened my eyes to a new area of design,” said O’Loughlin.

More than 500 participants entered the challenge and were drawn from multiple fields and around the world.