Turning the concept of ‘waste’ upside down: our 2021 BT Young Pioneer winner

By Marc Allera, CEO BT’s Consumer Division

Upcycling, repurposing and helping to save items that would ordinally head for landfill is something we all feel we could do more of. 

That way of thinking is incredibly important to BT, too – and our purpose of Connecting for Good.

This mindset has also played a huge part in us encouraging young people between nine and 18 to gear their innovative tech ideas towards tackling climate change in their entries for the 2021 BT Young Pioneer Award – part of the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards.

The creativity, and ingenuity of this year’s entries has been outstanding, and it was incredibly difficult to pick just one winner. But there has to be one, and we were delighted to announce Otto Sutton’s FrankEinstein app as this year’s BT Young Pioneer winner in a virtual ceremony this week. We’re so proud the BT Young Pioneer award continues to provide an opportunity for inspiring young people and their incredible ideas to thrive, and we’re looking forward to working with Otto to bring his app to life.

Otto’s FrankEinstein app is designed to help people ‘upcycle’ everyday items they might find in their home to avoid them heading for landfill. To take FrankEinstein from concept to reality, Otto (11) is looking to learn more about machine learning and app development.

“I believe FrankEinstein will make the connected global community take the concept of waste and turn it upside down,” says Otto. 

I believe it too, Otto. 

The app works by taking a photo of a product, then giving the user suggestions on how the product, or its components can be upcycled. ‘Why not turn this old washing machine drum into a fire pit?’ There are other websites, such as instructables.com, that tell you how you can make something, but not what you can make. Other platforms, like Freecycle promote re-use through giving goods away, but FrankEinstein links the two together, building a valuable database of products that can be made from spare parts in the process.

It is an idea that truly captured the spirit of how we can use tech for good to tackle climate change, encouraging us to change the way that we think, buy and use products. Otto will receive up to £10,000 in funding for his project and will be supported by BT experts to help make it a reality. 

Well done, Otto. And congratulations to all of our BT Young Pioneer finalists. Your ideas and enthusiasm to help tackle climate change are an inspiration. 

You can find out more about Otto’s app here, and you can also watch a replay of the Tech4Good Awards here and get blown away by the other amazing winners across the different categories.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @marcallera