Summer startups: From didymo and drones to 3D, VR

10 February 2017

What did you do this summer? If you were in the Summer Startup Programme, you may well have started your own award-winning business aimed at changing the world.

Summer startups: From didymo and drones to 3D, VR

University of Canterbury Master of Science student Logan Williams, founder of Biome, pitches to the panel of judges at the Summer Startup final presentation this week.

What did you do this summer? If you were in the University of Canterbury’s Summer Startup Programme, you may well have started your own award-winning business aimed at changing the world.

This summer, the budding entrepreneurs’ startup ventures featured 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.

SAVE THE FUTURE

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 University of Canterbury (UC) management student Cecilia Clavijo had about how to make the world better for her children.

Bolivian-born postgraduate Cecilia Clavijo 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.”

Her startup, 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 packed-out finale to the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship’s Summer Startup Programme this week.

TOUGH CHOICE

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,” says UC Centre for Entrepreneurship Director Dr Rachel Wright.

“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 Winners

First 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 crowd-funding his base-layer clothing startup and gaining media attention.

For further information please contact:
Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030 168 | margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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