Without water there would be no food and without food we would not have energy. Each of these three elements are vital to improving and preserving quality of life for people around the world, which is why they are the focus of the challenges set for students entering Shell Ideas360.

For a truly winning idea there is one more piece of the puzzle, as Dr. Deepa Subramanian points out. Deepa believes that every idea should be informed by the ambitions set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including solving hunger, having access to clean water and the ability to obtain affordable and clean energy. Ultimately, to help combat the Food-Water-Energy nexus.

Her passion is inspired by her own experience. Growing up in India, her family was affected by lack of access to clean water and reliable energy. This motivated her to seek solutions to deliver food, clean water and reliable energy to communities like her own.

Bringing ideas to life

After gaining a PhD in Chemical Engineering in the US, she used her scientific expertise to help marry up academic ideas with industry, first as Entrepreneurial Lead for the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps and now as a member of Shell’s Research Connect and Game Changer organisation, which searches for smart ideas that Shell can help bring to life.

This is why Deepa believes that the key criteria to bear in mind when coming up with solutions to food, water and energy challenges are sustainability and practicality.

Sustainable success

This theme runs through all of the successful ideas that have already been recognised by the Shell Ideas360 programme.

The Lean Mean Graphene Machine team was picked as the winner of the Judges’ Choice global innovation award in 2016 for its coating process designed to increase efficiency and decrease the environmental footprint of future power plants, while last year’s winners, Team Smart Panels, came up with a tracking system for solar panels that helped to collect clean energy at an affordable cost.

Back in Season One, a winning idea from team Skywell was a cost effective way to collect dew from drinking water, while Team REPiphany won the Audience Choice award in 2016 for their Nutrisea – a seaweed processing kit that helped to tackle food poverty.

All these ideas are different, but they all share the ideal of solving a problem in a sensible, smart and sustainable way.

Changing the future

These winning ideas were chosen from thousands of Shell Ideas360 entries, illustrating the vital contribution the next generation of bright minds will play in coming up with sustainable solutions to the water, food and energy challenges we face. Each one has the potential to help us improve the lives of millions of people, while helping us to hit the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Watch Deepa’s webinar to find out more about why she believes sustainable solutions have the power to change the world for the better.


Reg to watch the webcast.