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  • People.Planet.Product student design challenge launched to inspire engineering innovation and empower global communities

    Electrocomponents’ partnership with The Washing Machine Project creates opportunity for students to advance the design and accessibility of the Divya manual crank washing machine and help improve lives

    LONDON, UK, 11 October 2021 –Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), a global omni-channel provider of product and service solutions, has launched a student design challenge in partnership with The Washing Machine Project, a social enterprise dedicated to designing, developing, and distributing low-cost, water-saving, manual washing machines to provide displaced and low-income people with an accessible, off-grid alternative to handwashing clothes. Research conducted by The Washing Machine Project with 1,500 families in 12 countries shows that 99% of the people conducting this task are women and girls as young as seven years old.

    Hosted on the DesignSpark engineering platform, the People.Planet.Product challenge is an opportunity for students to apply innovative thinking and practical skills to the ongoing development of The Washing Machine Project’s first manual crank-handle machine, the Divya, and help make a positive difference to people’s lives around the world.

    Competition entrants have the option to design a solution focused on one of three different areas:

    • People: Encourage and empower people to use the Divya around existing cultural norms. The solution can be based on a specific cultural environment, and/or can be about the improvement of the technology or the implementation of it.
    • Planet: Filter out greywater and microplastics before water is drained out of the Divya, enabling users to maximise water reuse/recapture for washing, cooking, cleaning, or agricultural farming.
    • Product: Encourage better posture and interaction of the Divya. The solution could include overall improvements of efficiencies of the product such as weight, portability, maintainability, and usability, or focus on a specific design point.

    Entrants are required to submit a 1000-word account of their idea, explaining how it solves the real-world problem they have chosen, supported by a one-minute video or audio summary. Originality and feasibility of the solution will be key considerations.

    Finalists will go forward to present their solutions to a panel of distinguished judges at a live virtual final. To support the finalists, and to bring their ideas to life, Electrocomponents is offering a £250 basket of products stocked by RS Components, as well as coaching support from a product design engineer and a graphic designer, a presentation masterclass, plus free add-on modules for the company’s DesignSpark Mechanical design software.

    Three winners will be selected at the live final and receive £1000 in RS products or a cash equivalent to support their prototype development, plus access to a business mentor and a knowledge session with The Washing Machine Project founder, Navjot Sawhney.

    Isabella Mascarenhas, Vice President, Grass Roots Education at Electrocomponents, said: “This latest initiative with The Washing Machine Project, our chosen social enterprise partner, is a fantastic opportunity for students to innovate and practise their skills in a project that will have a life-changing, empowering impact on the lives of thousands of women and children in global communities.”

    Key dates are:

    • Deadline for submissions: Monday 18 October 2021 at 10:00 am BST
    • Finalists announced: Friday 29 October 2021
    • Live virtual final: Friday 26 November 2021

    To be eligible for entry to the People.Product.Planet design challenge, all applicants must be aged 18 or over and be studying a full- or part-time course. For more details, please visit: https://www.rs-online.com/designspark/people-planet-product-student-design-challenge

    The People.Product.Planet design challenge is supported by Elvie, a pioneer in female-first innovation in tech to improve the lives of women around the world, and SharkNinja, a leader in innovation, devoted to developing 5-star consumer rated products that make life easier in the home.

    About Electrocomponents

    Electrocomponents plc is a global omni-channel provider of product and service solutions for designers, builders and maintainers of industrial equipment and operations. We stock more than 650,000 industrial and electronic products, sourced from over 2,500 leading suppliers, and provide a wide range of product and service solutions to over 1.2 million industrial customers. With operations in 32 countries, we trade through multiple channels and ship c. 60,000 parcels a day.

    We support customers across the product life cycle, whether via innovation and technical support at the design phase, improving time to market and productivity at the build phase, or reducing purchasing costs and optimising inventory in the maintenance phase. We offer our customers tailored product and service propositions that are essential for the successful operation of their businesses and help them save time and money.

    Electrocomponents plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and in the year ended 31 March 2021 reported revenue of £2.0 billion. Electrocomponents plc has nine operating brands: RS Components, Allied Electronics & Automation, RS PRO, OKdo, DesignSpark, IESA, Synovos, Needlers and Liscombe.