A GROUP of students are seeking to harness the brainpower of sixth formers and undergraduates to help in the fight against coronavirus.

Anoushka Patel, from Kennington, just outside Oxford, who is an undergraduate engineer for Dyson, is one of the trio who have set up the Covid Challenge, which launched yesterday.

The challenge asks students to pool their interdisciplinary expertise to create projects that could help reduce the burden of the pandemic on society.

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Students will work remotely with other sixth formers and undergraduates from across the country, before submitting their ideas to a panel of leading judges from around the world.

Miss Patel, who went to Oxford High School, said: "We have hundreds of students signed up and ready to embark on the challenge, representing five different continents.

"We are really excited to see it coming together, and it's genuinely so inspiring to see so many bright minds coming together to help mitigate economic, social and medical impacts of Covid-19 during at such a difficult time."

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Adam Flanagan, co-founder of Future Labs, and Mark Kleyner, a second-year Geography and Economics student at Edinburgh University have worked with Miss Patel to get the challenge started.

Mr Flanagan said: “The pandemic we are currently faced with is probably the closest our generation will get to wartime. Whilst Britain’s key workers battle around the clock in unimaginable circumstances, young people must assume our own responsibility and do what we can to help mitigate the impact of the crisis.”

Mr Kleyner added: “I feel it my moral obligation to do all I can so that like-minded students can unite their creative efforts to find meaningful solutions and help to address some pressing Corona-induced challenges.”

Miss Patel said her motivation for helping lead the project came from Dyson.

The 18-year-old explained: “As a Dyson undergraduate engineer I am inspired by the news that Dyson will be delivering as many as 10,000 ventilators to where they are needed, but in times like these it is equally crucial to bring together brilliant young minds who are able to apply their particular expertise to solutions which could alleviate some of the hardship this crisis brings.

“Society as we know it is undergoing a crucial time of technological disruption and young morally astute individuals need to be at the heart of it.

“We are structuring the challenge to help mitigate the social, economic and medical impacts of Covid-19, as well as some of the issues facing resource-strapped charities.”

Sinead O’Sullivan, a Harvard Business School fellow and member of MIT’S Covid-19 Response Task Force, has signed up to sit on the initiative’s judging panel.

She said: “We are facing an unprecedented crisis that can be aided by innovative thinking around costs, logistics, production or manufacturing.

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"Students are exactly the kind of highly-skilled, creative thinkers that we need to engage with urgently to reimagine technical solutions to grand societal challenges, and I am looking forward to being a part of the conversation."

The challenge will be taking place between April 1 and April 6 and the organisers hope to attract as many as 1,000 student participants.

For more information visit covidchallenge.co.uk.