The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bio-ID Student and Graduates Shortlisted in London Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition

9 May 2023

Dana Molzhigit, a 2nd year Bio-Integrated Design MArch student, and Bio-ID graduates Zainuddin Ansari and Arnav Kele, have reached the final five of the competition, which will announce its overall winner on Tuesday 09 May.

Cofounders of Phyto Biodesign: Arnav Kele (left), Zain Ansari (middle), Dana Molzhigit (right)

Founded ten years ago as a competition and internship scheme, the Mayor’s Entrepreneur programme invites recent UK-based graduates to field forward-thinking, sustainable and ecologically-minded business ideas to help improve and future-proof London and tackle some of the capital’s most pressing challenges. Within the competition, winners in four categories – Creative Industries, Environment, Health, and Tech – will each receive £20k to start up their business, along with expert mentoring from staff at City Hall to get their idea to market. A number of finalists will also receive grants to pursue their ideas. Bartlett alumnus Arthur Kay was the competition’s first winner, collecting an award in 2012 for his project Bio-Bean.

The three graduates, who all studied Bio-Integrated Design (Bio-ID) MArch/MSc, founded a biodesign company, Phyta Biodesign, with a focus on finding innovative ways to promote biodiversity through biology and design to make the world a greener place. Based at UCL Innovation & Enterprise’s Base KX, the start-up submitted their proposal, 'Apia', in the Environmental category of the competition.

Apia addresses a pressing issue of rapid decline of solitary bees, one of the most important pollinators in the world’s ecosystem. Unlike honeybees, solitary bees do not colonise and therefore look for safe places in cities to survive, but due to dense urbanisation and a lack of bee-friendly environments, solitary bees cannot find homes and eventually die. Apia is an easy-to-use architectural panel that can be installed on walls, allowing solitary bees to inhabit the parametrically designed surfaces. By creating safe havens for solitary bees, the project aims to create better opportunities for pollination and improve the biodiversity corridors of London.

On Tuesday 09 May all finalists will deliver a two-minute pitch to the expert judging panel in an event at City Hall’s new East London home in Royal Docks, before the judges choose and reveal the winners in each category.                           

More information

Read more about the London Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition
See Arnav Kele’s graduating Bio-ID MArch project at The Bartlett B-Pro Show Archive
See Zainuddin Ansari’s graduating Bio-ID MArch project at The Bartlett B-Pro Show Archive
See Dana Molzhigit’s first-year Bio-ID project at The Bartlett B-Pro Show Archive
Find out more about Bio-Integrated Design MArch/MSc

Co-founders of Phyta Biodesign: Arnav Kele (left), Zain Ansari (middle), Dana Molzhigit (right). Photo: Camila Pellegrini
Carousel: 1. Apia: A modular panelling system designed for solitary bees in London. Photo: Dana Molzhigit
2: Computationally Designed Panels: Apia is designed by studying bee behaviour to generate complex forms that are tailored for bee habitation. Photo: Zain Ansari
3. Bee entering an Apia panel. Photo: Dana Molzhigit