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Ulster Graduates Develop 'ecoTent'

Eco-friendly graduate Houston Reid, who receives his BSc degree this afternoon at the Coleraine campus, practices what he preaches.  He and three university friends are working flat out on an idea triggered by the amount of waste left by people at festivals. 

“We have developed the idea of producing an environmentally-friendly tent aimed specifically towards music festivals,” Houston says. “We recognised a major problem in this industry and have worked together closely to develop a possible solution.” 

Their ‘ecoTent’ is fully biodegradable and can be left behind at venues and, so, remedy the problem of abandoned polythene tents.  

“It’s hard to believe but people are leaving their tents behind at festivals,” says Houston (22), from Ahoghill in Co Antrim.  “We carried out research and found that 15,000 tents were left behind at Glastonbury in 2007.”

In the 2010 Enterprise Ireland Student Enterprise Awards, ecoTent picked up the ‘Most Technologically Innovative Idea Award’ (sponsored by Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys) of €7,500 plus €20,000 worth of consultancy.

Houston said: “We are developing a prototype eco-tent that can be left behind for compost or just safely disintegrate in to the soil.”  

Three of the team receive degrees at Ulster this week. Houston and Stephen Caldwell will be conferred BSc Hons in Computing with Business, while Jonathan Garland graduates in Business and Terri O’Kane will complete her degree next year. 

“We are in the process of establishing a limited liability partnership and the concept is being patented. What’s needed now is an investor to fund research and testing. We will spend the rest of the summer on the project before we get full time jobs. But even then we will be keeping it on the boil to make sure we are eventually able to bring it to the production stage.”