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Sustainable Design and its Importance to Reduce Impact

Sustainable Design and its Importance to Reduce Impact

EDRF & HM Government

Breakfast networking event: Sustainable Design and its Importance to Reduce Impact

Sustainable design is the approach to creating products and services that have considered the environmental, social, and economic impacts from the initial phase through to the end of life.

Each year the University of Bath’s Department of Mechanical Engineering hosts a Group Business Design Project (GBDP). The next GBDP project will be a cross-departmental project with Mechanical, Automotive, Manufacturing, Design & Mechanical Electrical.

The project helps students understand the scope and scale of completing a project, navigate social and cultural differences to work towards a common goal as a team and understand how engineering fits into the wider commercial environment.

The GBDP project launches in February and the assessments take place in May.

We’ll be joined by Dr Elies Dekoninck, Senior Lecturer in the departments of Mechanical Engineering and Advanced Design & Manufacturing at the University of Bath. Dr Dekoninck will provide insights into eco-innovation and its importance to reduce impact.

Following our keynote talk, we’ll hear from companies innovating in sustainable product design and who are already supporting student projects as part of the University of Bath Group Business Design project.


8.55 Attendees join via Zoom

9.00 Welcome and introductions from our event host, Lucy Paine

9.15 Keynote talk: Dr Elies Dekoninck, Senior Lecturer at University of Bath

Dr Dekoninck will give a brief historical perspective on how approaches to eco-design have evolved since the 90’s. Then she will give some examples of her own work supporting eco-design and eco-innovation in industry. Finally, she will attempt to give an overview of research identifying the most successful approaches to tackle sustainability through design.

9.30 Interactive Q&A panel session:                                            

                        Nav Sawhney, Founder, The Washing Machine Project

                        Keven Chappell, Technical Director, Pinweld Ltd

                        Sarah Whelan, Operations, Airway Medical 

                        Alex Witty, Founder, Compound

09.45 Breakout networking rooms – your chance to mix, mingle and exchange contact details

10.30 Meeting closes

Join like-minded people and a panel of experts for this free to attend, sustainable business networking event.

Once you have pre-registered, you will be sent a zoom invite to join the event.

This networking event is hosted by the West of England Sustainable Technologies Scale-Up Programme. This programme is funded through the European Regional Development Fund and provides a package of support to businesses in the West of England in any sector that are developing low carbon technologies or looking to make their products or services more sustainable.

Get to know your speakers and panellists

Dr Elies Dekoninck, Industrial Designer

Dr Elies Dekoninck is a senior lecturer in the department of mechanical engineering at Bath, originally trained as an industrial designer.  Following a few years in industry, she completed her PhD ‘Eco-innovation: tools to facilitate early-stage workshops’ in 2003, after which she worked as a consultant at Kinneir Dufort Product Design Ltd. in Bristol specialising in Design Strategy and User-centred design. She worked on an EU funded project titled: ‘SUPPORT- Sustainable Innovation Tools’ and conducted consultancy for CREAX Innovation Consultants. Since joining the University she has become involved with projects such as: an industrially-based MPhil ‘Improving Innovation Using TRIZ’; a project with ENVIRON UK ltd. ‘Eco-design, Eco-innovation and future moves towards corporate sustainability’; and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) with Foundrax UK, Bailey Caravans and Designability. In 2015, she completed a large EU-research project including eco-design methods: G.EN.ESI ( She is programme leader for the MEng in Integrated Design Engineering.



Nav Sawhney, Founder, The Washing Machine Project

Former University of Bath student, Navjot Sawhney, Founder of The Washing Machine Project.

Launched in 2018, The Washing Machine Project, is the only manual washing machine developed specifically for the humanitarian context. Nav is experienced in Research And Development with a demonstrated history of working in the design industry, as well as the developing world. Strong engineering humanitarian professional with a Master of Engineering (MEng) from Queen Mary, U. of London and MSC in Humanitarianism, Conflict and Development at the University of Bath. Seeking out and excelling in new technical challenges by applying engineering, humanitarianism, communication, and people skills. Engineering a more sustainable future.



Keven Chappell, Technical Director, Pinweld Ltd

Keven Chappell is technical director of Pinwel Ltd. Previously working in the field of thermographic NDT and materials testing, Keven created a universal solution for the linear welding of any thermoplastic material. Continuing to develop the technology with the University of Bath, it was this solution that became the basis of the Pinweld technology and subsequently won an InnovateUK grant. Keven holds a BSc in Mathematics and an MSc in Technology Management, his interests include sustainable design (including three projects of his own) and supporting education.






Sarah Whelan, Operations, Airway Medical

Airway Medical is a Bristol-based medical device manufacturer innovating by simplification. Its business ethos is one of environmental and social responsibility and its novel medical devices have sustainability at their core. Our goal is to help save lives and to start to influence the way medical devices are manufactured, taking responsibility for the utilisation of raw materials from renewable sources and how we as individuals and a company can impact the circular economy for the benefit of people and the planet before profit.

Sarah is one of the senior management team and has responsibility for people, partnerships and the day-to-day operations of the business. She has a background in the military, training provision and HR.






Alex Witty, Founder, Compound

Alex Witty, Founder, Compound. Graduated with 1st class honours in Product Design BSc from the University of Brighton. Alex was awarded the Santander University of Brighton Growth Grant Award, South West Creative Technology Network Automation Award and The Fred Maillardet Product Design Breakthrough Award for 2018-19.

Alex has Product Design experience at the leading global design and innovation company Seymour Powell, which creates world-first innovations for clients such as Virgin Galactic, Superdry and Jaguar Land Rover. Alex also worked at Wild and Wolf, a design agency with over 5000 stores in over 60 countries around the globe. Alex’s business, Compound, takes industry waste from across motorsport and converts it into unique, recycled, fashionable footwear. Alex is passionate about motorsport and the new world of responsible, sustainable business. Our aim at Compound is to create a recycled footwear business that benefits motorsport teams, race fans and the planet.



Lucy Paine – MC

Lucy loves connecting people and starting conversations, with a background of growing business support and mentoring. She’s currently heading up the TechSwindon community, showcasing the amazing tech community in the area.


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