Green schemes are put before ‘Dragons’

Young entrepreneurs from schools across the city have been putting their eco-business ideas to a Dragon's Den-style panel at a charity event this week.

Organised by Norwich Carbon Reduction Trust (NCRT), the Eco Innovation Competition took place at the Curve in the Forum on Thursday and saw local experts and business leaders forming a panel of 'Eco Dragons' to judge the children's proposals.

Teams were made up from secondary school students aged 11 and upwards and they took turns to pitch their ideas to the Dragons.

Mark Crutchley from NCRT, who acted as chairman for the panel, said: 'The objective of this is to educate people in ways to reduce carbon footprints.

'As well as being an educational experience, it is also a way of making it more fun.'

Sewell Park College, in the north of the city, the Hewett School in Lakenham, Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey, City Academy Norwich (CAN) in Earlham, and Open Academy in Heartease all submitted entries.

Matthew Jones, head of corporate planning at Lotus and Gideon Middleton, who leads the MBA course in strategic carbon management at the University of East Anglia, were among the panel looking to spot the next innovative eco-initiative.

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John Popely, director of Anglia Print Ltd and Tom MacAgno, sustainability advisor to the Low Carbon Innovation Centre, UEA completed the panel.

There were two categories in total. The winners of the first category were students from CAN for their eco-garden idea, iCAN Grow.

The second category was won by the team from the Hewett School with their project, a bike dynamo which charges products like mobile phones or mp3 players by cycling.

Year 7 pupil Keelan Robinson, from the bike dynamo team, said: 'We only have this planet for a limited time so we need to change our minds about what energy we use.'

Although the Dragons did not have millions of pounds to invest in the projects, Rachel Watson, NCRT co-ordinator explained the importance of the project.

She said: 'We recognised there was that limit, but we wanted to get the children involved with doing something about sustainable living.'

The main funder of the event, Norwich City Council, is also supported by Norse, Lotus, Chapelfield Shopping Centre, Anglia Print, BBC Voices and The Forum Trust.

Are you doing something for the eco-cause? Call Donna-Louise Bishop on 01603 772438 or email