Innovation Award Blog #1 - Getting Started

2018 saw three winners of the Innovation Award at the Bath SETsquared Innovation Centre. We have asked the winners to write their own blog posts so that we can hear all about their entrepreneur journey as it develops. Read Parimala Shivaprasad’s blog about her winning business idea ‘Retra’.

Retra logo.png

Floral waste management in India needs immediate attention as it is causing land and water pollution due to the poor handling and disposal. One of the solution is to upcycle the floral waste by extracting essential oils and composting the used biomass for manure, which is the main objective of Retra.

Retra is a sustainable essential oil range derived flowers that are no longer used and discarded. It has evolved from being just an idea to a pilot phase stage, thanks to the various enterprise activities and support provided by Bath SETsquared. Seed funding through the Dragon’s Den competition helped me to validate the idea by carrying out small scale tests back in India last summer. This was followed by winning the University Business Plan competition and the Innovation Bursary this year. The bursary gives me the opportunity to test the market potential of Retra in the market in Bangalore, India. I am in the process of setting up a pilot scale plant in a temple in Bangalore, where I will be using the temple flowers to extract the essential oil. The plan for the 1st year is to work with 2 to 3 temples in close vicinity and use the temples as the marketplace for selling the essential oils. This will also create more job opportunities for the local community and I mainly hope to empower more women through this initiative.

As a winner of the business plan competition, I got the opportunity to meet successful alumni entrepreneurs earlier in October in London. It was a fantastic two days where I gained useful insights and critical feedback on my plans for the future of Retra. The entire experience has taught me to be more pragmatic about my enterprise and think beyond the pilot phase year. Retra was also featured on the BBC news both in UK and India, which helped me reach out to the international community with my enterprise. Following this, I have received a lot of requests to collaborate and I cannot wait to go back to India to extract some oils!

I am currently on a six month research placement in TU Eindhoven as a last part of my PhD. I intend to submit end of March after which I will go back to Bangalore to officially establish Retra.

Parimala Shivaprasad - Retra