SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

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Student Entrepreneurs Pitch Their Big Ideas

Hosted by our Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE), UC’s students pitched their business ideas live on stage during a Dragons’ Den-style competition held in early January 2020. UCE programmes empower students to make a real difference. The students’ ventures included promoting a compostable kelp-based plastic alternative, a social enterprise that provides affordable ball dresses for high school students, a technology to recover zinc from industrial waste, and a company that provides data services for the blockchain industry. UCE former Director, Rachel Wright, explains: “This is a fantastic opportunity for UC students to develop their creative business and social enterprise ideas and make a positive difference in the world. The showcase is also a chance for people in the community to come along and discover what the next generation of entrepreneurs in our city are up to.”


Advancing earthquake disaster resilience is at the forefront of research and outreach activities of Te Hiranga Rū QuakeCoRE, a national research centre hosted at UC. Research projects include advancing understanding and modelling of individual earthquake-induced geohazards (including ground motions, liquefaction, and slope instability); the behaviour of structures and infrastructure in the built environment; law, planning and economics; understanding critical cultural and social factors of New Zealand people, and the role of Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge). In 2020, the Government awarded a second tranche of funding over seven years for UC to continue hosting the research centre. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Ian Wright says, “This next phase will provide significant advancement and application of new smart technologies to earthquake engineering, and the social and economic mitigation of future earthquake impacts.”


Breakthrough in Recycling Acid Waste

Zincovery is the brainchild of UC’s Associate Professor Aaron Marshall and research student Jonathan Ring. Their new low-cost industrial prototype will be capable of recycling 15 per cent of the acid waste produced by Christchurch’s galvanised steel industry. Until now, there have been few affordable recycling options for the galvanised steel industry as the existing technologies are expensive and recovering zinc has simply not been economic. Zincovery’s ambition is to expand into international markets, which could direct significant financial returns back to New Zealand. Jonathan is working on the business side of Zincovery with UC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship, to fast-track the commercial enterprise.

Talking ‘Hidden Energy’ at Parliament

As part of the Speakers Science Forum 2020, UC cutting-edge research was presented to MPs and decision-makers, to inform the issues being addressed in Parliament. UC Engineering academic Dr Matthew Cowan’s presentation focused on his research, improving the methods and technologies used to purify all the building blocks of society. “The kai we eat was separated from the earth, the water we drink was purified of bacteria, and our cutlery was shaped from metal refined from ore. Amazing amounts of energy are hidden in the objects all around us,” he says. Dr Cowan’s goal is to reduce the amount of energy we need to use every day to slow climate change and enrich lives.


UC Graduate Taking on the World

Charlie Kavanagh graduated from UC in 2020 with a Bachelor of Commerce double major in Information Systems and Management and a minor in German. Charlie says the entrepreneurship scene at UC is unparalleled. 

“I started three businesses since coming to UC,” he says. “I wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of these if it wasn’t for the staff and resources at UCE (UC Centre for Entrepreneurship). I’m a business-minded person, and UC has given me access to a ton of resources. The entrepreneurship scene here is unparalleled. I would highly recommend UC to anyone who’s passionate about start-ups. You’ll learn heaps of great skills, meet inspiring people and maybe even graduate with your own business… or three!”