Inventor Stefan, 87 in finals of contest

Stefan Karp
Stefan Karp

A creation by a former lecturer has made it to the finals of the Great Britain Challenge competition to find the UK’s next big product.

Stefan Karp, 87, of Rushden, has produced a simple roller chain, but unlike the metal ones most people are familiar with seeing on bicycles, his is made from polymers and employs only two different components.

The chain will go on show between July 24 and 30 at the Science Museum alongside products by iconic companies, including Mars, McLaren, Airbus and The Royal Mint, as part of the Make It in Great Britain exhibition.

Mr Karp, who used to work for Brunel University and owns Polymer One Way Drives Limited, began inventing things when he was a teenager.

He said: “I began inventing things when I was about 14. You expose yourself to a problem and you get your mind to work on it and you are determined to find a solution.

“I’m very proud to be a finalist – I said to myself it shows you must never give up, I never have and never will.”

The roller chain works with metal or polymer sprockets and requires no lubrication. It is also suitable for aggressive liquid environments, can be conductive, non-conductive and non-magnetic.

Mr Karp said his chain could be used underwater and could also be useful in bomb detection equipment because it is not made of metal which can trigger explosive devices. It could also be used in the pharmaceutical industry because, again not being made of metal, it does not need to be oiled.

Business Minister Mark Prisk said: “The UK is full of creative manufacturing expertise, and I’m delighted that we are able to celebrate some of the best pre-market ideas through the challenge.”

Visitors to the exhibition will be invited to vote on their favourite Make it in Great Britain entry. To find out more visit