Robotics start up in final of Lloyds Bank Enterprise Awards

Issue date: 12 September 2014

A company based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) has reached the national final of the Lloyds Bank Enterprise award for graduates, after winning the regional heat in Exeter this week. The competition, now in its third year, offers the winning venture a first prize of £50,000.

OmniDynamics was founded by David Graves and Gregory Gruzecki during a placement year whilst they were studying robotics and engineering at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). The company, based in BRL's Technology Incubator, designed an innovative 3D printer accessory called Strooder; a plastic filament extruder that brings down the cost of home 3D printing by enabling users to produce their own filament (3D printing ink).

David Graves said, “We are very pleased to reach this stage in the competition. It's highly competitive, but we believe our product has a good chance. An important consideration for us as 3D printer users was the waste generated by failed 3D prints” .

“The Strooder enables users to recycle wasted prints into renewable filament. It is operated by a 2.4” touch screen and has a menu for users to choose the material they wish to extrude. Strooder then selects the correct temperature and extrusion rate, and automatically feeds the material into the machine. The material is then melted and pushed through a die/nozzle as quality filament.”

Earlier this year, OmniDynamics worked with a group of UWE Bristol film-making, creative media and Team Entrepreneurship students to bring Strooder to market. Their successful Kickstarter campaign aimed to raise £20,000, but secured a total of £64,369 from 300 backers across the world. The team now includes Stephen Lloyd - Lead Researcher, John-Anthony Rodgers - Web Developer, Patrick Brinson - Electronic Engineer, Olly McBride - Robotic Engineer, Gurashish Singh - Mechanical Engineer. David Beaumont, South West director of SME Banking at Lloyds, said, "Three years into the competition, we're still hugely impressed with the calibre of young businesses entering. The South West's shortlist just goes to show that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well amongst students and graduates. We know the challenges that new business owners can face when turning their passions into enterprises, and it's a pleasure to recognise the rising stars who have overcome these difficulties."

The Technology Incubator at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory is a visionary pilot program to stimulate and support technology start-ups. It works with a full sample of undergraduate, graduate, post-graduates, staff and partner spinout businesses; ensuring an up-to-date and detailed understanding of technology start-up needs and enhances the BRL's creative and entrepreneurial culture. It provides valuable input to taught courses, research and research exploitation.

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