We are delighted to share that a team of Benenden Upper Fifth students – collectively called the FABonoids – have won the University of Cambridge Davidson Inventors Challenge 2023.The challenge encourages students to use STEM skills to research a problem and come up with a sustainable and innovative solution to tackle it.Responding to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of health, the students created a sustainable soap which would effectively reduce transmissions of bacteria. Due to their many antibacterial properties, the students investigated and implemented the use of flavonoids for this purpose, creating a soap they claim is “more effective than other soaps currently on the market”.
They wrote: “We aimed to show that a soap using sustainable flavonoid compounds would have higher antibiotic activity against common bacteria compared to a commonly used soap. This would help reduce transmissions of bacteria in any setting if used to wash hands. As flavonoids are effective against multi-drug resistant bacteria, our solution could help reduce the problem of rising cases.”
Additionally, the team have been keen to emphasise the environmental benefits of their soap: “There are currently very few flavonoid soaps available to buy in the UK, and most of the research on flavonoids has been on plants that are difficult to source in this country. However, the plants used in our soaps are easy to find in the UK and use a simple method to extract the flavonoids from the plant, therefore making our soaps easier to produce locally and as such more environmentally friendly.”In the final of the challenge, the team presented very well and responded to difficult questions posed by the panel of academics from the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. As well as a cash prize, the students have been invited to spend a couple of days in the university’s labs later in the year.