The Bartlett School of Planning


School of Planning student a finalist in Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition

20 March 2015

The Gaia Gallery

Coming ahead of a large number of entrants from universities across London, MSc Urban Regeneration student Louis Rutherford's off-grid barge project has been chosen as one of only ten finalists in the Mayor's Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition.

Working together with Ali Stephens and Linda Royles, Louis' 'Gaia Gallery' project is based in a heritage canal boat and aims to create the UK’s first entirely off-grid touring event space. The project is volunteer-led and has been shaped by a carbon neutral design that incorporates alternative technologies, reclaimed materials and natural building methods. The barge is also currently being converted to operate on recycled vegetable oil, further improving the impact of the project.

The project has been shaped through collaboration with Siemens, TEDx and the global 'Biomodd' art project. Despite these high-profile partners, Louis emphasises that the project is still in essence a grassroots enterprise; as a skill-sharing platform it has enabled a series of expert-led public courses and has helped to forge strong community links in diverse neighbourhoods across London.

In response to the project's success, Louis is encouraging other students to pursue their own low-carbon community projects and social enterprises: "Our legacy will extend beyond this kind of canal-side regeneration. Through partnerships with major charities such as Thames21, The Challenge Network and Otesha UK, we will be working directly with young people to develop job-skills and climate-change resilience. 

It was great to achieve the recognition from the Low Carbon Entrepreneur Prize and to hear from such visionary members of the panel as Dame Ellen MacArthur. At university, you’ve got the perfect platform to start a community, entrepreneurial initiative with plenty of resources and support; I’d recommend any UCL student to go for it next year." 

The Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneur Prize

The Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneur Prize asks London's students and recent graduates to come up with idea's to reduce London's energy use and carbon emissions. Winners receive a £20,000 seed fund to help get their idea started, as well as help and advice from City Hall to set up their business.

The ten competition finalists must pitch their ideas Dragons' Den style to an expert judging panel, which picks the winner/s. The 2015 panel includes Dame Ellen MacArthur DBE, award-winning solo yachtswoman; Charlene White, journalist & newsreader; Richard Reed, entrepreneur, co-founder of Innocent Smoothies; Siemens UK CFO Andrew Hall; Siemens Global Head of Urban Development Martin Powell; Morad Fareed, co-founder of Delos; and the Mayor's Senior Adviser on Environment and Energy Matthew Pencharz.

Find out more about the Low Carbon Entrepreneur Prize here.