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Green waste solution wins Australian eChallenge

Friday, 16 November 2018

eChallengeAn innovative way of making better use of green waste has won first prize in this year’s Australian eChallenge awards. The process, named VitaChar, has won its creators $21,000 cash in prize money plus over $10,000 worth of prizes.

The Australian eChallenge is an annual competition-based learning experience that develops strategic business thinking for early-stage entrepreneurial ventures. Run since 2001 by the University of Adelaide’s Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC), the pre-accelerator program is a proving ground for future entrepreneurs. It is Australia’s longest running program of its kind.

The winning team, VitaChar, proposes the conversion of organic waste into an organic fertiliser with a simple, safe, and efficient device. Methane emissions, which contribute to climate change, would be reduced, as green waste doesn’t end up in landfill. Nutrients are returned directly to the soil, and costs and emissions associated with transport are reduced. VitaChar is proposed as being carbon negative, as it results in a reduction in atmospheric Co2. VitaChar has also won the Climate Response category and the People’s Choice Prize.

VitaChar comprises team members Lewis Dunnigan who recently completed his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide and Ben Morton who is currently completing his PhD also in Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide.

“The Australian eChallenge helps students build entrepreneurial capability, develop new ways of thinking about problems and solutions, and increase their capacity to think creatively and act decisively,” says Pro-Vice Chancellor - Entrepreneurship, and Director, Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC) at the University of Adelaide, Professor Noel Lindsay.

“In whichever direction these participants head next, we know that we have helped prepare them to be agile and resourceful, adaptable and resilient, and to harness failures and build on them for success,” says Professor Lindsay.

Teams pitch business proposals for their new, previously unfunded business concepts, to potential investors from the local business community. They compete for cash prizes - this year a total prize pool of more than $200,000 - and the prestige of being awarded the most outstanding Australian eChallenge entrepreneurial venture of the year.

153 teams, consisting of 720 participants, took part in this year’s competition. Competition streams include Tertiary, Schools, Climate Response, Medical Innovations, and Wool Innovation.

Winners have been announced on Thursday 15 November at a gala presentation at the Adelaide Oval.

Winners in each stream are:

Tertiary stream:
VitaChar. Lewis Dunnigan and Ben Morton.
Alternative use for both household and commercial green waste which is carbon negative.

Wool Innovation:
Easy Drench. Katrina Durham, Janine Chang Fung Martel and Dylan Bellchambers.
A technique to make parasite control in sheep simpler and more precise.

Climate Response:
VitaChar. Lewis Dunnigan and Ben Morton.
Alternative use for both household and commercial green waste which is carbon negative.

Medical Innovation:
PDTech. Anas Al-Shamleh, Mark Gardner, Sam Koopowitz, Vicki Thomson and Wanqi Jady Wang.
An app that detects, surveys and securely communicates data about the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Microsoft Prize - Schools:
Pre-Pear. Charlotte Creek, Orla Clayton, Renee Lawrence and Charlotte Sellars, St Peter’s Girls’ School.
An app which provides people with recipes that use their left-over ingredients from their fridges.

Kontainer. Henry Young, Doha Khan and Lian Takayidza, Glenunga International High School.
An app that helps consumers make sustainable choices in relation to single-use takeaway containers.

Microsoft Prize - Public:
PDTech. Anas Al-Shamleh, Mark Gardner, Sam Koopowitz, Vicki Thomson and Wanqi Jady Wang.
An app that detects, surveys and securely communicates data about the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Vroom Consulting Prize:
Fresco. Nehal Jain, Parika Verma and Zoha Kazmi
An app that helps food enthusiasts explore and share new places to eat.

Enabled Solutions Prize:
linearlocksets. Thuan Nguyen
Innovative door furniture which works intuitively and gives people with disabilities easier access to their homes.

Spruik Digital Prize:
Band at Hand. Ned Carthy, Ben Smith and Zac Turnbull.
An app that helps people source and hire up-and-coming musicians and singers for their events.

Schools: Overall winners:
PartySafe. Samuel Subramaniam, Cooper De Zylva, Zac Horbelt, Georgia Butcher and James Borg, Scotch College.
An app to administer parental consent for minors attending private parties.

Schools: ECIC Encouragement Award
Everprotect. Trishna Menon, Grace Parletta, Suzie Shimamoto, Aatman Sabharwal and Ayush Lohana, Saint Ignatius College.
An antibacterial barrier cream that is preferable to hand sanitisers which can cause skin complaints.

Schools: Leaver & Son Encouragement Award
Muso. Taylor Bannon, Joshua Pearson and Kyle Hetherington, Glenunga International High School.
An app and website that connects artists, venues and marketers to grow their footprint in the music industry.

Schools: Regional Prize
Envirodrone. Ashley Leckie-Hefford, Sohan Singh, Damon Kassebaum, Haidar Qambari and Corey Valente, Renmark High School.
A drone which picks up rubbish and reduces the cost of cleaning open spaces.

People’s Choice Prize:
VitaChar. Lewis Dunnigan and Ben Morton.
Alternative use for both household and commercial green waste which is carbon negative.

The Australian eChallenge awards are made possible through support from many partners in business and industry especially Australian Wool Innovation.

www.adelaide.edu.au/echallenge

Image:
The VitaChar team receiving their award from His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia. Dr Lewis Dunnigan (left) completed his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide. He is a leading expert in the cogeneration of char and energy and has published numerous cutting-edge papers related to this area. Ben Morton (middle) is a surface scientist with experience working in the fertiliser industry as a formulation chemist. He is currently completing his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide. [Full Story]

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Upcoming Events

J.M. Coetzee: Photographs from Boyhood

Date/Time: Friday, 9 November 2018 - Wednesday, 5 December 2018, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
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Outdoor production: As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Date/Time: Saturday, 17 November 2018 - Sunday, 25 November 2018, 7:00 pm to 9:45 pm
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Abbie Memorial Lecture: Dr James Rutka

Date/Time: Monday, 19 November 2018, 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm
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Date/Time: Monday, 19 November 2018, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
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