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Graduate company installs world’s first people-powered football pitch in Rio de Janeiro

Loughborough graduate, Gilmore Satchell, manages the technical installation in Rio.

Loughborough University graduate company Pavegen has just delivered its most ambitious project to date – a sustainably powered football pitch in one of the most deprived favelas in Rio de Janeiro.

In partnership with Shell, Pavegen installed 200 tiles into the redeveloped pitch at Morro da Mineira which was recently opened by global football legend, and Shell ambassador, Pelé. The pitch is lit for ten hours during the night by a unique combination of Pavegen tiles, which convert the energy from footsteps into electricity, and solar panels.

The idea for Pavegen was conceived by Laurence Kemball-Cook during his Industrial Design degree at Loughborough in 2009. Shell helped Laurence to progress the technology in 2011, through the Shell LiveWIRE competition, which highlights the importance of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) careers for aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs.

Malena Cutuli, Global Brand Communications Manager at Shell, said: “we were really impressed when Laurence presented his technology to us at ShellLivewire; his quest for energy solutions that can improve the planet has great potential to improve the world we live in. It’s great to see new solutions that help the world come to life with such huge impact in the future.”

Morro da Mineira’s football pitch took shape in just five days, with local children helping to complete the installation. Laurence said, “Following the unity and spirit of the World Cup, this project is an incentive to encourage entrepreneurial growth and disruptive innovation, allowing the community to hone their football skills on the pitch and be part of the energy generating process.”

He added: “Pavegen is at a critical point in our development, our focus is scale, and this pitch represents the largest use of our technology to date. We have taken this idea from a bedroom in London to a football pitch in Brazil with the support of Shell. We look forward to continuing to work together with Shell around the world.”

Professor Steve Rothberg, Loughborough’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Enterprise, said: “This is yet another significant milestone for Pavegen’s founder Laurence, to whom we awarded the title of Innovation and Enterprise Fellow earlier this year. I am delighted that another Loughborough graduate, Gilmore Satchell, also played a key role in the Rio football pitch project as lead electrical engineer.”