Melina Dimitrova

RGU students address global problems through innovative solutions

By Vallath Kavitha Krishnan - 18 May 2022

This series of articles explores the journey of the winners of the EIG Sustainable Goals Student Ideas Competition.

The EIG Sustainable Goals Student Ideas Competition is focused on inspiring students to contribute towards tackling the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. The RGU Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group (EIG) led competition aims to encourage students to take innovative, creative and proactive approaches to tackling these challenges through supporting sustainably focused early-stage business innovations, this student competition could also strengthen future employability.

Sponsored by the RGU Foundation Annual Fund, every month students can win cash prizes, raise their profile, give back, and be rewarded for thinking innovatively all at the same time! The winners from the month of March share their experience of participating in the competition below.

Melina Dimitrova is a high achieving student at RGU’s School of Computing and won the top prize in the category of Local Community. Melina’s previous RGU Innovation Award work familiarised her with the UN Sustainability Development Goals, particularly SDG 15 relating to Life on Land. “I am deeply concerned about the decline in green spaces, nature and wildlife and I realise the opportunities available to address this are decreasing. As my specialisation lies within computer science and technology, I wanted to apply my knowledge to help reverse the damage done to life on land.”

While Melina’s idea of using Artificial Intelligence to tackle forestation challenges isn’t entirely new, it is ambitious due to its large global scale. “I was worried my idea was utopian and just wishful thinking. I was not confident that it could be accomplished. But I learnt how valuable and relevant my idea is in the current times, and it made me realise it can be workable and not just a dream”.

As the top prize winner, Melina is taking home a £100 Amazon voucher as well as inspiration for a career direction whilst still completing her MSc, “Given the feedback I received and my newfound motivation, I am hoping to take my innovation to the next step and working towards making this plan for a greener world a reality. By developing the system, I described in my application.”

Minnie Buchan, a School of Creative and Cultural Business student, won the Highly Commended prize of £50 in the Social Impact category focused on SDG 10 (Reduced Inequality) due to her personal experience. “With working part time in retail, I have witnessed the struggles some individuals face due to lack of accessibility and have thought more should be done to assist them in daily tasks. Many people I have encountered would benefit greatly from that added area of freedom.”

Minnie’s idea was around using eye tracking technology to enhance the retail check out process allowing differently abled people to also fulfil these job roles. Minnie was also drawn towards this competition due to her experience of participating in the RGU Innovation Award and found the SDG competition greatly beneficial to her learning. “Participating in this competition allowed me to spend time researching and exploring the struggles many individuals face. It allowed me to have an outlet to present an issue which I have seen first-hand. It has inspired me to reflect on how much able-bodied individuals take for granted and how a change should be made in public spaces to assist other members of society. This is something I think I’ll consider going forward when proposing ideas or within current and future workplaces.”


Highly Commended prize winner Ilanchezhiyan Balasubramanaian’s submission was also inspired by his own personal experience. Ilanchezhiyan’s moment of inspiration struck him in an everyday setting, “While I was cooking, I was intrigued by the challenges around disposing cooking oil fat, and it led me to come up with my Net Zero waste environment concept”.

Ilanchezhiyan’s entry focused on creating an inclusive Net Zero Waste society as part of SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and SDG 13 (Climate Action). Ilanchezhiyan, a student of Aberdeen Business School, believes in taking a decentralised market approach to Net Zero Waste methodologies "A small change in our conventional way of life helps in creating a huge potential to contribute to and save our mother earth".

“The EIG Sustainable Global Student Competition creates awareness and prompts students to develop ideas related to the UN SDG action plan” Building on his success in the EIG competition, Ilanchezhiyan will undertake a technological market research analysis across rural and urban cooking fat biowaste collection systems.

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