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Winner of Privilege Finance’s Innovation Award announced

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A student from the University of Nottingham has won the inaugural Innovation Award for research into renewable energy from waste or related technologies.

Sarah Farthing’s research was focused on understanding the feasibility of hydrothermal carbonisation as a treatment for anaerobic digestate.

The award, run by Privilege Finance, celebrates the achievements of students who have investigated innovations in the sector for their main research project while at university.

The judging panel included Dawn Stephens-Borg, editor of Bioenergy Insight; Andrew Vernau, chief financial officer at Privilege Finance; Catherine Linch, managing director at Pinstone; Chris Winward, chief commercial officer & CTO at Privilege Finance; Kiara Zennaro, head of biogas at REA; Thomas Minter, director at Malaby Biogas; and Tracy Giles, operations director at Privilege Finance.

University of Manchester students Miranda Mirzad and George Wells both received runner-up prizes for their dissertations on hydrogen fuel cells. The winning students each received a cash prize, plus the opportunity to access tailored mentoring with members of the Privilege team.

“People graduating and starting a career in renewables now are entering a different landscape to even just 12 months ago,” said Chris Winward, chief commercial officer at Privilege. “The green recovery is going to require talented individuals who are not afraid to innovate, and as an industry, we must make sure we’re creating the right opportunities for the next generation.

“Personally, I’ve been incredibly impressed by the high calibre of research skills demonstrated in the applications we’ve received for this award, and I very much look forward to meeting the winner and runners-up virtually for the prize-giving and for the mentoring opportunity, which is offered as part of the prize.”

Dr Kiara Zennaro, head of biogas at the REA, said: “The REA was delighted to have been part of the judging panel for Privilege’s Innovation Award.

“I enjoyed reading the entries and was incredibly impressed by the quality of the research submitted, including renewable hydrogen, improved farm nutrient management, and biogas combined with energy from waste technologies.

“These are brilliant individuals carrying out research in vitally important fields and it is absolutely crucial to nurture these talents.”

“I was very pleased to be part of the judging panel for Privilege’s Innovation Award,” commented Thomas Minter, director at Malaby Biogas.

“As a long-standing member of the AD industry, I am acutely aware that the potential it offers to the economy and climate action requires a commitment to future prosperity and expertise.

“The UK industry is a world leader in many aspects and the R&D process starts with academia and vision. To deliver the vision we want to see, we need to nurture talent and develop career paths for aspiring graduates.

“Privilege’s own innovation in establishing this award should act as a beacon in years to come. The depth of talent we saw in the submitted proposals was impressive and the technical detail provided hope for a bright future. I look forward to this award becoming a regular date in the industry’s diary and I am glad to be able to support it.”

Applications for the 2021 Innovation Award will open in the spring. Application forms will be available on the Privilege Finance website.