Almost 230 people lost their lives in the various floods plaguing Europe, notably Germany and Belgium, this summer. ‘Generally, 23% of businesses do not reopen after flooding,’ says entrepreneur Gary Giles, founder of UK firm Ogel. He came up with an innovative way to help prevent disaster while putting plastic waste to good use.
‘It’s a bit like Lego,’ Giles describes his block-like system that is reusable, ‘can turn into something different each time’ and is made from 100% recycled polystyrene. The patented plastic brick structure can serve to create a buffer against flooding as well as emergency shelters or pop-up medical facilities.
The Ogel flood defence has a number of advantages:
- Quick installation and dismantling
- Reduces business interruption
- Lowers insurance premiums
- Compact when not in use
‘The beauty of our system is that we put waste plastic to work as a fast-build flood defence barrier, in essence solving a problem with a problem,’ Giles comments.
As a fourth option, the recycled system can be used to set up mobile home offices, nicknamed ‘Taskpods’, which he notes are in high demand in the post-covid world. The former accountant underlines Ogel was able to develop these new solutions in 2020, despite strict pandemic restrictions.
The South Shields entrepreneur recently debuted his idea on the TV show Dragon’s Den. He managed to secure an initial investment of £50 000 (EUR 58 300), that will go towards the launch of two new products. A fun fact is that Giles had almost deleted the BBC’s invitation to audition, as it has ended up in the start-up company’s spam folder.
‘Also, the reality was that we were still in product development and weren’t actually looking for investment at this point, but we knew that the exposure was priceless,’ Giles recalls. ‘And, even if the Dragons ripped us to shreds, it’d be better to get a reality check now.’
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