The Piano was humming with exciting new ideas on Tuesday night, with the University of Canterbury Centre for Entrepreneurship’s (UCE) biggest ever Showcase pulling a crowd of over 300 people into central Christchurch to hear from the top 11 ventures from this year’s UCE Summer Startup Programme.
24 student founders spent ten weeks working on their ventures full-time this summer as part of UCE’s seventh Summer Startup Programme, which involved many hours of mentoring, speaker sessions and workshops. At the end of the Programme, all the students pitched their ventures to a judging panel who selected the top eleven ventures to present at Tuesday’s Showcase.
A huge range of businesses and social enterprises were featured at the Showcase, including voicemail to text smart assistant Vxt, eco-friendly jewelry brand Identify, and MerklePath, a new solution in the Blockchain space.
Ultimately, however, a common theme of a strong environmental conscience was shown in all the ventures selected as prize winners by the Showcase judging panel of Melissa Davies, Ben Kepes, and Peter Montgomery.
The Change-Maker Award went to Anzac Gallate and Jack Fraser from The Gro•Up Group. The Gro•Up Group enables teachers to engage students in science and sustainability through innovative education programmes which empower the next generation of active citizens who will help to restore a natural Aotearoa.
Jonathan Ring received the Innovation Award for Zincovery, which provides waste recycling for the galvanizing industry at a lower cost than disposal, repurposing waste materials that would otherwise be hazardous to the environment.
Attendees of the showcase selected Abel Goremusandu and his venture Kelpn as their People’s Choice Award winner. Kelpn is developing a kelp-based bioplastic, with the goal of creating the world's most sustainable bioplastic.
Ngārie Scartozzi from eClean Envirotech was named the Overall Winner. The eClean bioreactor is designed for deployment on farms, and removes nitrates, phosphates and other contaminants from waterways. The judges commented that they were very impressed by the huge potential for eClean to minimise the impact of agriculture on New Zealand’s waterways.
Congratulations to these winners, and to all the ventures in the Programme on the amazing progress they made over the Summer.