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Queen Mary graduate helping to save the planet using seaweed

Marcos Souto Ulloa, a graduate from Queen Mary University of London, has developed a revolutionary material made from seaweed aimed at preventing plastic seeping into the world’s oceans.

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The invention uses a new type of pliable material made from seaweed
The invention uses a new type of pliable material made from seaweed

Marcos Souto Ulloa graduated with an MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and recently won a Young Innovator’s Award for his invention.

The Young Innovator’s Award recognises young people from across the UK who have the potential to become successful entrepreneurs and future leaders in innovation. Each winner receives £5,000, one-on-one business coaching and an allowance for living costs.

Sustainable solutions for the future

Plastic waste is a growing problem in rivers and seas and previous research from Queen Mary has also shown that erosion of historic landfill sites is also posing an increasing threat to the environment. The invention uses a new type of pliable material made from seaweed which is home-compostable and water-soluble and can replace plastic packaging.

Marcos hopes that this product will be used in the cosmetic, 3D printing and food wrapping industries. He said: “We are working on a seaweed plastic which has several advantages when compared with what is out there in the market. Seaweed is one of the most efficient organisms capturing CO2, it does not use freshwater or fertilizers, and it uses no land.

“Seaweed farms are not only sustainably growing seaweed but in fact, are helping to clean the ocean from acidification. Our plastic will be biodegradable and compostable. The combination of these two characteristics makes it much better than fossil fuel plastics and traditional bioplastics made out of resources that require land, pesticides and fertilizers.”

Opening the doors of opportunity

Reflecting on his time at Queen Mary, Marcos considers the sense of entrepreneurship to be one of the most memorable things about the University. He said: “When we were setting up the social student venture capital fund with Joanne Zhang, I started understanding how entrepreneurship societies worked around the different universities in London. It was during this time that I realised the importance of universities in the UK’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Stefan Krummaker and Joanne Zhang were both great professors influencing my leadership and innovation development during my time at Queen Mary.”

“Queen Mary was a door of opportunities and it was there for us to take them. What I loved the most, was how approachable professors were when dealing with a new project. During my masters, I learned to take the step, tell people my story and show them how they could help me. I believe this is crucial when starting something and a comfortable academic environment such as Queen Mary provided me with that.”

More information

• Study Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Queen Mary
Find out more about Marcos Souto Ulloa.

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