A COMPANY set up by a Bournemouth University graduate has received a government grant to develop an innovative flood prevention scheme.

Fluvial Innovations Ltd has been given around £65,000 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) after winning a competition for businesses developing technology to tackle flooding and climate change.

The grant will be used to develop and manufacture a new FloodBrick product – a temporary and portable flood barrier which could replace sandbags in protecting homes and infrastructure from rising water.

BU graduate Simon Phelps, who is founder and managing director of Fluvial Innovations Ltd, said: “The whole thing about sandbags is that they don’t work – they make sandy water leak into properties and are really heavy, so need a lot of people to move them.

“If it wasn’t for the grant, it would have been at least two years in the pipeline to develop the FloodBrick. We can now start working on bringing it to market.”

Simon, 29, from Bournemouth, studied Computer Aided Product Design at BU from 2001 to 2005, and set up Fluvial Innovations Ltd. after developing a Floodstop product for his final year product.

The Floodstop is a unique lightweight and portable barrier that is formed through a series of interlocking units. These fill up with the rising floodwater, making them heavy enough to stay weighed down, and empty when the water recedes – meaning they are light enough to be carried away.

BU helped Simon to develop and commercialise the product and owns 10 per cent of the company, which started life in the BU Innovation Centre and is now based in Nuffield Industrial Estate in Poole.