20 December 2019
Insulation made from clothing off-cuts, mushroom-derived construction material, a robotic farming system, an AI-powered
recycling bin and a game turning locals into citizen scientists, are among ten finalists announced today for New
Zealand’s official environmental innovation competition.
The C-Prize challenge
run by Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand’s innovation agency, is about finding and creating thriving businesses out of
new technologies that tackle complex global problems with creativity and inventiveness. The three key focus areas were:
cleaning up our waterways, reducing or reversing human impacts on climate and smarter use of finite resources.
“New Zealand has potential to lead the world in eco innovation, and benefit from businesses solving tough environmental
challenges. We have the passion and serious technical expertise. But we struggle to get our ideas out of the lab or
garage, and turn them into commercial realities,” says Vic Crone, Callaghan Innovation’s CEO.
“We set a big, bold challenge with C-Prize this year - one that could be the most important challenge of our time. We
asked people from across the country to put forward innovative tech solutions with the power to improve environmental
outcomes on a global scale.”
The finalists announced today, from Christchurch to Auckland, will receive $10,000 to support their project alongside
valuable business mentoring over the next six months. A grand prize winner will be announced in June, receiving $100,000
cash plus Callaghan Innovation services, support and connections to help the winner progress their concept through to
Callaghan Innovation's Richard Quin, who is managing the C-Prize competition, says the experienced judging panel had an
incredibly tough job of selecting just 10 finalists from 140 diverse entries across the country.
“We wanted to see plans that applied technology in new ways and showed bold and original thinking. Our 10 finalists were
especially promising with their research and plans to address significant environmental threats,” says Mr Quin.
“It’s not about winning a prize, it’s about creating strong business foundations to catapult their ideas into local and
then global markets. So they have a huge journey ahead of them.”
The 10 finalist teams will take part in a series of intense commercialisation bootcamps starting in February 2020, to
give them mentoring and practical R support as they progress their concepts to prototypes. The overall C-Prize winner will be named in June 2020.
See below for information about the finalists and judges or check out www.cprize.nz
. Finalist and spokesperson images are available via this Google Drive link
C-Prize Environmental Innovation Finalists
BioFab NZ, Auckland
Traditional packaging and building materials use toxic materials, releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide during
manufacturing and making up over 30% of global landfill waste. BioFab is creating packaging and building materials out
of New Zealand-grown mushroom mycelium and wood chip (with hemp hurd feedstock). The biomaterial can be as light as
polystyrene or as rigid and strong as plywood.
Compost Made Smart, Auckland
Over a third of waste going to landfill is compostable. This organic waste is not only unnecessarily transported and
processed using energy but also creates land, air and water pollution including rotting organic matter releasing
greenhouse gas (methane). Compost Made Smart makes it easier for people to responsibly dispose of their organic waste
with a compost sensing device linked to an App with convenient, simple directions.
Worldwide only 3% of textile waste is recycled responsibly and 15% of all textile waste comes from textile offcuts
produced and discarded during the manufacturing process. Similarly, construction and demolition waste is responsible for
approximately 50% of landfill material in New Zealand. EcoTex’s LessCut innovation is looking to create a circular
economy in the industry by turning textile off cut waste into warm homes. Its patentable process will repurpose
synthetic fibres into insulation materials.
Ngā Kaitiaki, South Auckland
The new types of complex environmental problems we face require a deeper understanding and a new approach to education.
Ngā Kaitiaki see an opportunity for local people to become citizen scientists, restoring local ecosystems and monitoring
environmental changes within their community. Their mobile Ahi Kā Rangers game enables users to move through their
natural environments and earn rewards for the actions they take in improving their ecosystems.
New Zealand alone sends 2.5 million tonnes of waste to landfill every year but a quarter of this landfill is actually
recyclable material. OneBin is a smart waste bin that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and sensor fusion technology to
automatically separate all categories of recyclables from waste. It can be easily installed in various locations such as
kerbsides, shopping malls, airports, and office spaces.
Pamu Moana, Tauranga
Pamu Moana is farming protein from the sea as an alternative to land farmed protein that is often putting strain on our
constrained ecosystem. It aims to both replenish and farm native clam species exclusive to New Zealand shores through
aquaculture. The team has developed a special form of farming tailored to the bivalve surf clams, with a farming
platform that can be set up both at sea and inland.
Radius Robotics, Christchurch
Soil, and its critical ability to store carbon, is being depleted faster now than at any other point in history,
presenting a significant risk to global food security and compounding the threat of climate change. Many tools and
processes that growers use are expensive and often damaging, accelerating soil depletion. Radius Robotics is building a
robotic polyculture farming system with machine learning software that will automate most grower tasks. This will
eliminate harmful chemical use, regenerate soil, maximise carbon capture and diversify yields.
There is significant potential to reduce our energy use and environmental impact when it comes to heating and cooling
spaces. The building sector in particular is responsible for about half of the world’s energy consumption. Smart Energy
Storage (SES) is a system that absorbs natural cool or warm energy from the environment, stores it, and releases it when
Wired Energy, Auckland
Changes in the way we consume energy at home on mass can have a material impact on the environment. Wired Energy is
accelerating residential carbon reduction by designing a smart, hardware enabled system at a price-point that will
ensure accelerated residential uptake.
Zincovery is out to tackle the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of zinc and acid released into landfill and wastewater
every year through the steel galvanising process. With its demonstration plant it aims to recycle the industry’s spent
acid and zinc for reuse within the galvanizing industry. The aim is to offer the service at a cost less than what these
businesses pay to dispose of it.
Conrad Lendrum (Callaghan Innovation), Arama Kukutai (Finistere Ventures), Professor Juliet Gerrard (PM’s Chief Science
Advisor), Anne Haira (Ministry for the Environment), Sean Molloy (Avertana) and Brett Holland (Creative HQ).