By Neve Dawson, Third Year, English and History
Graduate entrepreneurs Monica Wai and Kira Goode have recently won the national 'Everyday Engineering' contest, for their portable menstrual cup cleaner, designed during their studies at the University.
As a result of their pioneering success, the duo were offered a meeting with Dragons' Den star Deborah Meaden, as well as specialised mentoring from the Entrepreneurial Academy.
The product, now named Eleria, was designed by the graduates while studying at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University. Subsequently, the University granted the pair £17,000 to get their business up and running.
The concept of the product is to reduce plastic and single-use waste, whilst also benefiting the customer by offering a cheaper alternative to high-street, disposable sanitary products.
The average woman throughout her lifetime will spend £5,000 on sanitary products, with many countries still employing the 'Tampon Tax' which further increases prices.
Although this was abolished in 2021 by the UK government, many period products still remain financially unattainable for some.
The reusable nature of the menstrual cup cuts down on both costs and landfill, preventing, on average, the two minibuses full of menstrual products that go into general waste throughout a woman's life.
A concern by some users of menstrual cups is whether the devices are discrete enough, especially when menstrual protection needs to be changed on the go. Eleria helps to reduce these concerns, making the cleaning process of the cup quick and efficient.
Advertised on the company's website, the cup can be cleaned by a simple shake-and-drain process, with the cup also being multifunctional since the case can sterilise the cup between menstrual cycles. Kira Goode added:
'At University I was trying to find a cheaper and more sustainable period product and I started using a menstrual cup and wondered why more people weren't using it. After conducting research with thousands of people it was clear the main barrier was that women were unsure how to clean and sterilise cups on the move, and that was really off-putting. We created Eleria to make these products more convenient and save money.'
Eleria is now part of Runway - the University's 'incubator' for student startups. Although still in the prototype stage, Mark Neild, the Director of Runway, said the success of the graduates 'is a testament to the tenacity of female founders.'
One of three finalists in the 'Everyday Engineering' competition, Eleria has caught the eye of Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, who praised such a creative solution to challenges faced every day:
'It’s been brilliant to see such innovative and original ideas for sustainable inventions and to have discovered Eleria, the menstrual cup portable cleaning and sterilising case, which will help people to use a menstrual cup on the move, prevent landfill from menstrual products and save money.
'I’m delighted to see so many people getting into the engineering mindset and coming up with creative solutions to everyday challenges.'
Featured image: University of Bristol, Prizewinning Graduates Monica Wai and Kira Goode
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