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Fendalton - Ilam
Innovation shines at summer programme
“Every year, a few of these ventures go on to become thriving new businesses,” UC Centre for Entrepreneurship director Dr Rachel Wright says.
very summer holidays the University of Canterbury’s (UC) Summer Startup Programme gives budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to start their own award-winning business aimed at changing the world. By working on them full-time for 10 weeks over the summer, the students can fast-track their ideas, which may be either commercial or social enterprise ventures. This summer, the startup ventures featured a number of innovative ideas including a process for turning invasive algae didymo into paper and plastic, health and safety training using virtual reality, drone control of invasive plants, and 3D visuals for architects. Ethically sourced streetwear, yak-
wool activewear, simple and stylish storage, luxury leather goods, and an emerging photographers’ gallery were also among 30 student-founded new ventures. Saving the planet from 1.5 billion plastic shopping bags by using reusable fabric bags for fruit and vegetables was not the first idea that management student Cecilia Clavijo had about how to make the world better for her children. The Bolivian-born postgraduate student was studying management at UC when the opportunity arose to gain a scholarship to work on a business idea over the summer. “At first, I wanted to develop an app that would encourage children to make good choices about what they eat. But, doing the
programme, I realised that this idea wouldn’t work too well, so I changed to VitaBag.” VitaBag offers reusable fabric bags that are biodegradable and will keep produce fresh both inside and outside of the fridge. It was one of the top 11 ideas presented before judges at the finale to the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship’s Summer Startup Programme in February. UC Summer Startup programme manager Michelle Panzer says choosing the top 11 out of 30 ventures was difficult. “So many of the ideas showed real promise, and so many of the entrepreneurs made great strides on developing those ideas all summer.” The 35 students in the programme were
able to develop their business ideas over the 10-week programme with specialist help from 47 speakers and more than 40 mentors. “Every year, a few of these ventures go on to become thriving new businesses,” UC Centre for Entrepreneurship director Dr Rachel Wright says. “This time last year, a company called WirelessGuard was presenting at this event. This year they were exhibiting their technology at CES in Las Vegas. That’s innovation in action. “We couldn’t make this programme work without the support of our sponsors and without the generosity of our business community with their time and expertise,” Dr Wright says.
Summer Startup 2016/17 prize
irst Place and People’s Choice Winner: Logan Williams - Biome Aimed at creating sustainable products for the future, Biome uses Didymo, an invasive freshwater algae, to create sustainable and biodegradable materials including Biopaper, Bioplastic and Biofabric. Second Place: Chris Petrie - InSiteVR InSiteVR aims to save lives and keep workers safe through training in virtual reality. InSiteVR makes it possible to experience dangerous and realistic work scenarios in the safety of your office. It’s safe “learn by doing” training, founder Chris Petrie says. “Simply by putting on a virtual reality headset, we will make it possible to experience dangerous and realistic work scenarios in the safety of your office.” Third Place: Stefan Warnaar - Peak to Plateau Peak to Plateau creates performance
outdoor clothing with yak wool sustainably sourced from the Tibetan Plateau. Founder Stefan Warnaar has been successfully crowdfunding his base-layer clothing startup and gaining media attention. Launched in the summer of 2013/14, the Summer Startup programme aims to develop students’ professional capabilities and their ventures. By offering students a $5000 scholarship each, the programme builds on an educational foundation to foster the innovative and entrepreneurial skills of students. Since it started, the programme has supported more than 120 students and their ventures. This summer was the biggest yet with 30 ventures developed. A number of UC Summer Startup ventures have gone on to industry accelerator programmes including Lightning Lab, Y-Combinator, R9, Unreasonable Labs and Vodafone Xone.
University of Canterbury Master of Science student Logan Williams, founder of Biome, pitches to the panel of judges at the Summer Startup final presentation.
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Fendalton Ilam Gazette 07-03-17