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Plastic-free coffee cup invention earns Fanya Ismail's Gillingham firm government grant for International Women's Day

By Katie Nelson

A woman is one of nine recipients of a grant from the government for inventing an environmentally friendly material to be used in coffee cups.

Fanya Ismail is the chief executive and founder of Gillingham-based chemistry company Sol-Gel Coatings & Advanced Materials.

She has invented a waterproof material that will be used in disposable coffee cups which removes the need to use plastic.

Fanya Ismail (7618670)
Fanya Ismail (7618670)

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy awarded her £50,000 to go towards the development and marketing of her invention.

The funding was awarded today as part of International Women's Day.

She used a chemical process called ‘sol-gel’ which produces solid materials from small molecules that will make disposable coffee cups waterproof without the need to use plastic.

"I have been working on this invention for six or seven years, it is a great thing to be recognised for the hard work that has gone into the invention and I will now be able to take this to the commercial world."

Fanya came to the UK in 1995 from Kurdistan. Having studied chemistry in her home country, she studied for her Masters and PHD at the University of Manchester.

She formally worked as a lecturer for Kingston University, London, before starting Sol-Gel Coatings & Advanced Materials in Pier Approach Road, Gillingham.

The 48-year-old mum of three from Barrier Road, Chatham, said of the grant: "It does make a big difference.

"From not being able to say many words in English when I got to this country to getting this award, it's amazing."

Fanya Ismail holing a blue plaque from Innovate UK. Picture by Jennifer McCord (7647176)
Fanya Ismail holing a blue plaque from Innovate UK. Picture by Jennifer McCord (7647176)

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "I would like to congratulate all these women on developing inspiring and pioneering innovations to tackle the grand challenges we face as a society, from a new waterproof coating to cut down single use plastic, to helping us train mechanics with simulators.

"This is our modern industrial strategy in action, backing the innovators and businesses of all sizes across the UK to grow-and develop the products, industries and sectors of tomorrow, boosting the UK economy with the skills and inventions we will need for the next generation."

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