26 May 2019

Environmental innovation programme launched at Zealandia

5:48 pm on 26 May 2019

A mentorship programme has been set up to help environmental innovators better overcome the challenges they face when making their ideas a reality.

WFF has partnered with Ākina, Auckland Council, Callaghan Innovation, Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment, and Ministry for Primary Industries to create 9Wire.

The launch was held at Zealandia eco-sanctuary in Wellington today.

WWF New Zealand chief executive Livia Esterhazy said a lot of innovators get lost in the start-up maze.

"They've come up with an idea, they have got no idea sometimes how to start up a business, where they need to go for funding, what training they need to be a leader, to connect with others who are like-minded, there are a lot of pitfalls," she said.

Ms Esterhazy said the programme will bridge those gaps and as well as funding, their partners are offering services.

"DOC for example have said if we do have some innovations that deal with predator free, we can use their ranges and DOC land to test," she said.

She said a $170,000 has been committed to the fund, but the programme will help people access millions of dollars in funding in pre-existing grants.

One of the Innovators invited along to today's event was Grant Muir, who is co-founder of Riverwatch, which is a device that sends regular river quality measures to a cloud system and then makes that data easily accessibly to the public.

He said when setting up the business, he came across roadblocks along the way.

"You don't see the road ahead when you're an innovator and an inventor, you just focus on your product and then all these other things come up along the way, I guess you've got to persevere and work hard and long hours to overcome them," he said.

He said it would have been great to have a heads-up on those issues.

Looking to the future

Ministry for the Environment chief executive Vicky Robertson said when she talks to young people they want to make a positive impact.

"The more that we can show that there is an avenue for people to innovate and create businesses that actually do good for the environment, the better, so this is one of many programmes that are starting to happen," she said.

Ms Robertson said there has been an increase in environmental innovation, but this programme will allow more to get off the ground and not just remain an idea.

The first successful applicants are expected to be announced in the next six-to-eight weeks.

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