Our 5 finalists


Made for women, by women. Period.

Olivia Ahn: WithLula

Undergraduate, Faculty of Medicine

Why should women put up with leaky, expensive, bleached pads? Our redesigned pads and pants work in unison to guarantee a leak-free period. Added to this, Withlula offers biodegradability, curated delivery, and a pH protective core, not only rethinking sanitary products, but the entire experience. Current organic pads on the market are expensive and have the same design as conventional pads, offering no extra benefits. Withlula provides plant-based, personalised pads, to be used with new no-VPL period pants, fitted with a special absorptive support, to ensure no leakage every time, delivered to you.


Genetically engineering dirt-eating bacteria to save the world from heinous carcinogen in the dry-cleaning industry

Alice Miksova: SBC

Taught postgrad, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

Currently, dry-cleaning involves the carcinogenic solvent called tetrachloroethylene, which harms humans, causes smog, and poisons drinking water and soil. Its use will even become illegal in California in 2023. We replace this carcinogen with our engineered bacteria that actively eat the dirt for you. Why would this disruptive technology manage to oust huge embedded mighty chemical sellers? Because you will also be able to dry-clean things that could never be dry-cleaned before, like those fine, delicate ‘non-dry-clean’ garments that sit at the back of your wardrobe reproaching you. Your family will thank us for the health and environmental benefits, but so too will your wardrobe.


Prenatal care at the tip of your fingers

Ana Luisa Neves: Momoby

PhD, Department of Surgery & Cancer, Faculty of Medicine

Our prototype is a revolutionary fingerprick test that will finally bring prenatal care to pregnant women living in isolated areas, where they most lack it. Combining our mixed backgrounds (medicine, bioengineering and prototype engineering development), we created a device that performs the multiple tests recommended in pregnancy (i.e. glycaemia, HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis B) – in a single drop of blood. This all-in-one device is an economic and effective option for the early identification of diseases with known impact on pregnancy, thus allowing a timely treatment and better health outcomes for both mother and baby.


Reducing the number of allergic reactions

Toni Semmence: Sensidex

PhD, Depart of Chemistry, Faculty of Natural Sciences

11 million people in the UK have a food allergy or intolerance. A 1/3 of these suffered an allergic reaction whilst eating out last year alone. For the first time, our unique device will allow commercial kitchens to test their food for the 14 most common food allergens. This will ensure their food is allergen free, potentially saving lives. With help from Imperial Hackspace we created our first prototype and have secured an initial trial in schools. Our practical, scientific solution will finally give allergy sufferers the chance to eat out fear free.


A portable breast cancer pre-screening device

Vanya Valindria: C-Breast

PhD, Department of Computing, Faculty of Engineering

C-Breast is a solution for an affordable, efficient, and convenient early breast cancer detection. On the other hand, C-Breast also addresses the clinical challenge to exclude a cancer in those who are unlikely to have it. The device combines the optical imaging with the advancement of machine learning and image analysis tool in C-Breast apps, to reassure women by a personalized breast health check. Hence, C-Breast offers a new way of breast cancer pre-screening solution, which can reduce the burden cost of unnecessary referrals to breast clinics.

2017 Cohort


Enabling oncology clinicians to determine how long a patient could survive

Tesi Gahiga: PrognoB

Our prototype ABreast enables oncology clinicians to determine how long a patient could survive based on molecular data with up to 75% accuracy. This could be key when choosing between treatments. These bio-informatical computer models were developed during the founder’s, Tesi Gahiga, Biochemistry Research Project. The biggest challenge entailed going from a research project to a viable business plan. This was tackled by using our most significant assets: expertise acquired from the Imperial Business School, the Althea-Programmes and bioinformaticians. After many iterations, we succeeded in producing a business plan and a viable strategy to enter the market.


Changing the way we work with search engine results

Helen Greenhough: Philomath

Search engines are powerful tools but as users we are so used to seeing a long list of search results we forget to ask: is there a better way? The idea behind Philomath is to take developments in computer science (machine learning and visualisation) and apply them to the time consuming and boring task facing many researchers – sorting through their search results. Over the course of the Althea Program Helen has conducted market research, concept development, and built her own network of experienced mentors. Her idea is now ready for prototyping to conduct proof of concept experimentation.

Stay Safe

Your real-time safety guard

Yaqing Wei: Stay Safe

Not long ago, a female student at Imperial College London was robbed while leaving Bayswater station at night. The crime rates within London are not slowing down, reaching a staggering 7.7%. The team aims to solve the issue of personal safety through building a safety Intelligent System, leveraging the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Big Data. It can protect users’ safety at anytime, anywhere, and can lower safety risk beforehand. The team has built the prototype and received willingness from the intended target audience. Led by a serial entrepreneur, the team consists of people with experience and skills across big data, machine learning and programming.

Motus Innovations

Putting rehabilitation back into your hands

Stephanie Hodgson: Motus Innovations

Motus, with its robotics and simple mechanical design empowers stroke survivors to complete greater hours of upper limb rehabilitation. Stephanie Hodgson, a stroke physiotherapist, has experienced the frustration of needing to work within the constraints of limited one-on-one therapy time. Existing rehabilitation robotic solutions require the presence of a clinician, are too large to transport, and are expensive. For stroke survivors, Motus is a lightweight, easy to use device that supports all key movements of the upper limb. The Motus team succeeded in building a functioning prototype in January 2017 and are now ready to field test, when funded.


Tackling plastic waste management problems in developing countries

Francisca Jalil Vega: Karuna

Many developing countries have little or no plastic waste management systems in place, with plastic waste being incinerated or left as landfill. Karuna proposes to tackle this problem by establishing a collection network of plastic waste and adding value to it by shredding and extruding it into 3D printing filament. This filament is then to be sold in developed countries, taking advantage of the growing concern about climate and sustainability. The production will initially take place in a small factory located in Morocco, where currently virtually all plastic waste is incinerated or goes to landfill.


Personalized point of care hormonal testing

Gillian Koehl: Corticare

Current lab testing relies on outdated antibody technology to quantify hormonal levels resulting in a cumbersome, expensive and laboratory dependent experience for the user. Using cutting-edge technology, our diverse team of Imperial College London bioengineers, computer engineers and designers have created a 2 part device: a disposable sensing key and a reusable reader that provide quasi-immediate results at affordable prices. A proof of concept and a lookalike prototype were achieved in 2016. We are now developing our partnerships with clinics in order to perform initial beta tests of our prototype when funded.


Photosensitization based antibacterial treatment to increase the shelf life of food (red meats & sea food) and promote food safety

Nishta Parekh: FightBac

Effective reduction of microbial loads in food is absolutely vital to ensure food safety. Each year in the UK, consumption of contaminated food costs the NHS £1.5 billion pounds to treat and 7 million tonnes of food is wasted. Current methods of preservation include the use of chemical preservatives, which have negative impacts. FightBac aims to provide a unique photosensitization-based antimicrobial technique to produce a low cost and low maintenance technology which resists microbial growth on foodstuffs. The products developed will be aimed both at food manufacturers who can treat their food products pre-packaging, and also towards individuals who require foods to be preserved in the absence of a refrigerator.


A compostable cup made from brewery waste

Georgia Parker: N-Grain

N-Grain seeks to address the waste from brewery supply chains across London and the high level of unrecyclable disposable cups that are consumed daily in the UK. Currently, 7 million coffee cups are used each day, over 2.5 billion a year, most are sent to landfill. The team are developing a compostable cup made from the brewery waste material with a plant-based plastic lining. It is aimed at festivals, bars and coffee shops looking to replace traditional cups. The aim is to tackle the two waste issues identified and create a circular economy in the market.

Althea-ASD Project

Effective healthcare solution for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Nurul Hanis Ramzi: Althea-ASD Project

Our interactive and animated infographic digital platform enables concerned parent/family member/carer/member of the public getting a risk score for their children developing ASD. With supports given by the Althea-Imperial programme, we progressed from our team of three; the Alex Blakemore’s PhD students from Imperial’s Section of Investigative Medicine, combined with a web developer from Malaysia, we have gained interest from clinical psychologists and senior IT experts to collaborate with us in developing an online screening tool for ASD. Nurul Hanis Ramzi has led the team from inception since she studied an autism-related trait, alexithymia in general population and obesity cohort.


Revolutionising the treatment of chronic malnutrition by targeting the gut microbiome

Francesca Siracusa: Symbiota

Symbiota’s unique design combines several plant-based powdered fibres that have significant health benefits including increased levels of good bacteria in the gut, healing of the colon lining and improved immune system function. We are currently working with an international nutraceutical company to create the most effective formula and are striving towards having prototypes ready for testing within the coming months. We strive to disrupt current malnutrition treatments and to treat this global chronic disease by healing the source – that is, the gut – sustainably, at a low-cost, and in the community; we truly believe Symbiota is the way to well-being.

Na-Na’s Box

Worry free pill identifier and reminder

Sabrina Smith: Na-Na’s Box

Reliable self-medication for the elderly is a vital determinant in their ability to remain independent and not require full-time care. Na-Na’s Box facilitates this. Through the use of innovative algorithms involving image processing and machine learning, Na-Na’s Box is able to identify, sort and store multiple medications with a level of accuracy higher than any existing competition. Pills are dispensed when needed based on information provided by a doctor or pharmacist, with the user being alerted via a visual and audio cue.  This project is currently being proved through the implementation of these algorithms and creation of a physical prototype.


Covert personalised strategy development app

Alexandra Ntemourtsidou: iPlan

Two women are killed every week in England and Wales by their current or former partner. A team of Imperial College engineering students have applied their diverse set of skills to develop a design for a unique application, ‘iPlan’, tackling the issue of domestic violence against women and men. Key features include an individualised escape planner, an emergency navigation system to guide the user to the nearest shelter and a unique disguise to make the app unrecognisable on a user’s phone. The business plan employs a carefully engineered marketing approach so as to maximise the impact of iPlan.


A cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) app to beat painkiller addictions

Alice Tang: Painless

My idea aims to bring cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to painkiller addictions. Nothing like this exists; OPD is currently treated with drugs that have a similar effect to improve patients’ social functioning. My idea works as an adjunct, it is a solution to fundamentally change patient thinking patterns, to reorganise their thoughts, feelings and behaviours to ultimately beat the addiction. I aim to produce a low cost application which allows patients to seek help without having to access a healthcare provider long term. I want to use the gamification of CBT to provide motivation for patients to reduce their dependence on opioids. My solution will encourage patients to help themselves, to raise awareness and reduce the social stigma surrounding opioid dependence.


Nano drug-carrier

Mary Grace Yeo: Nanone

A revolutionary nanoparticle that releases high cholesterol drugs in the body over several months in a precise, time controlled manner, eliminating the inconvenience of patients having to take their pills multiple times in a day. Medical non-compliance for high cholesterol patients causes both the individual and society to suffer from painful financial costs due to the need for repeat treatments. Unlike physical solutions like pill boxes, the responsibility is no longer on the patient to follow his/her prescription. No such product is available in the market; Nanone offers a radical, biological solution to this chronic disease.


A cheaper and socially sustainable way of supplying muconotoxins to the medical research industry

Giulia Volla: Morpheus

The medical research and development industry currently utilizes muconotoxins as useful molecular tools across the neurosurgery and neurotechnology fields. Currently, these toxins are synthesized and supplied for around $800/mg. The same conotoxins are also found naturally in the venom of two species of Cone Snails. These species flourish in tropical waters, in countries such as Thailand and Tanzania where they are farmed for their shells currently sold for only $2-3/unit. Utilizing Smart Bait technology, we seek to maximize the existing cone snail shell farming infrastructure in these countries to also extract muconotoxins efficiently to supply demand in the medical research industry at a cheaper, more socially just way.