A Borders student is one of the winners of an innovation competition and will now take part in a residential “boot camp” for young entrepreneurs.
Maria Silies, 27, is studying on the MA Fashion and Textiles Design course at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design in Galashiels and has been named one of 33 winners of the Young Innovators Challenge 2014.
Run by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE), the competition encourages students to submit creative and innovative ideas for solving problems on one of three themes: healthcare and well-being; green and sustainable energy resources and smarter communities and infrastructure. There were more than 300 entries in total and each of the 33 winners has now received £1,000 to further develop their ideas.
Maria, originally from Germany, was chosen for her idea to “upcycle” textile waste from mills in Scotland, particularly heritage textiles such as wool, tweed and cashmere.
She sources the remnants from a local finisher and dyer in Galashiels, knitting, weaving or needle punching the strips to create larger pieces of fabric. Her idea came out of her Masters dissertation, which explores the opportunities in designing with Scottish heritage textile surplus and transforming it into desirable and unique fabrics, suitable for accessories and fashion.
Maria will now get the chance to join with the other winners in workshops and get input from experts and mentors. She said: “The challenge seemed to be the perfect opportunity to ‘think big’.
“I’m looking forward to presenting my idea to the public and pushing the potential of my project.”
She added: “Being one of the winners is a fantastic opportunity to work intensively on my idea with business experts and advisers from SIE.”
Alison Harley, creative director at the School of Textiles and Design, said: “This innovation challenge was an exceptional opportunity for students to show how they could really make a difference by designing a creative solution to a previously ‘sticky’ problem.
“It dovetails perfectly with our approach at the university, focusing as we do on developing solutions to critical global issues, through science, technology, engineering, business and design.”