Fashion fix

An undergraduate from Bristol University’s Department of Computer Science is set to make finding exclusive fashion items easier thanks to her new Snap-Fashion website.


Jennifer Griffiths, an undergraduate from Bristol University‘s Department of Computer Science, is set to make finding exclusive and elusive fashion items easier thanks to her new Snap-Fashion website.


Visitors to the website can upload an image of clothes or accessories similar to the one they want to find, and the site, which works like a visual search engine, using image-processing techniques to find suitable matches. The website also works as social-networking hub, where users can create their own profile and share their latest fashion finds with friends. A resident fashion writer writes articles for the site and a weekly newsletter.


For her efforts, Griffiths was recently awarded first prize at the university’s annual New Enterprise Competition 2009. The prize includes £15,000 of free legal advice from Osborne Clarke, and six months managed office space at the Bristol SETsquared Business Acceleration Centre, which provides entrepreneurs with business mentoring, guidance support, access to business professionals and office space.


Sadly, when The Engineer Online attempted to visit Griffiths’ site, we discovered that the server hosting it was unable to service the request as Griffiths had reached her bandwidth limit.


There were runners-up in the New Enterprise Competition too. Srilakshmi Sharma, a member of staff in the Department of Ophthalmology, was awarded £10,000 as joint runner-up for Selo, a low-cost device that aids the treatment of macular degeneration, a cause of blindness that affects 1m people worldwide, particularly those over 50.


The only treatment currently available is a drug that is injected into the eye every six to eight weeks, at a cost of £1,000 per injection. When the drug is injected, a small amount leaks out and there is a small risk of infection. Selo stops about 20 per cent of the drug leaving the eye once it has been injected, which Sharma anticipates will help reduce the number of injections needed, lower the risk of infection and blindness, and save the National Health Service in the region of £50m a year.


The other joint runner-up was Shamba Technologies for a social enterprise that will bring biodigester technology to the rural poor in developing countries. Some 2.6bn people in the world collect firewood every day for cooking and heating, and, in Africa alone, more than 400,000 people, mostly children, die every year from acute respiratory infections caused by inhaling smoke in the home.


The biodigester technology, developed by undergraduate Edward Matos from the Department of Engineering Mathematics, will capture fuel from the bacteriological digestion of livestock excrement and has the potential to replace firewood as rural Africa’s fuel of choice.


The entries were judged by a panel of experts from the sponsoring organisations, including Bristol City Council, Business Link, Deloitte, EADS, Edwards, Ginko Investments, IP Group, North Bristol NHS Trust, Osborne Clarke, Santander, SETsquared Business Acceleration Centre (Bristol) and Wyvern Seed Fund.