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Judges decide no winner in Rotorua Land Innovation Challenge

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 10:00 a.m.

A competition aimed at finding viable alternative land uses for landowners in the Lake Rotorua catchment did not find a winner.

While several entries for the Innovation Challenge were deemed to have potential, the judging panel found they did not address all key components of the competition. Entries needed to provide for long-term, measurable nitrogen reductions as well as provide research and analysis to show the business case detailing the solution’s economic viability.

The competition was run as part of the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme to find solutions to reduce nitrogen from land use for water quality objectives. Entries received ranged from changes to land management practices and robotic devices to treat urine patches, to alternative horticultural crops that can be grown in the Rotorua district.

The final Judging Panel which assessed the entrants’ business cases consisted of four business experts and entrepreneurs; Bill Murphy founder of Bay of Plenty’s Enterprise Angels, Dr Warren Parker Chief Executive Officer of Scion, Cheryl Reynolds creator of Waikato’s entrepreneurship hub SODA Inc and Dr Charlotte Severne, a science and business specialist working with Māori businesses. 

The Judges acknowledged the effort entrants put into their entries, but with a $20,000 prize there was a high expectation to provide detailed analysis to support the feasibility of the innovation for alternative land-uses in the Lake Rotorua catchment.

“After much discussion we decided not to award the $20,000 prize money,” Mr Murphy said.  “We scored each entry based on the level of innovation, the significance or scale of proposed solution and the business analysis supporting the feasibility of the idea.

“We found some entries were really innovative but didn’t provide the business analysis to support the solution or feasibility. Other entries, while feasible, didn’t score well on the innovation side.  Overall no entry scored over 50 per cent and we could not in good conscience award the prize,” he said.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council General Manager Natural Resource Operations, Warwick Murray, said he appreciated the efforts of all entrants.

“This Challenge was no easy task and I would like to recognise the time taken by the entrants who submitted their ideas.

“While we didn’t get an overall winner, the Challenge has helped raise awareness of the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme and the challenges in particular for the Lake Rotorua catchment,” he said.

“The Challenge has reinforced that there is no silver bullet for landowners to reduce nutrient losses. Landowners will need a suite of solutions to reach the nutrient reduction targets.”

Mr Murray said the submitted entries would be used to start a toolkit of alternative land-use options for landowners.

“We are committed to helping find solutions for nutrient reductions and will continue to work with the community, farmers, industry and research institutes to provide options for landowners,” he said. 

For further media information please contact Ingrid Tiriana, Senior Communications Advisor, on direct dial 0800 884 881 ext 8150 or (021) 190 8868.

More information

The Challenge:

  • Entries had to provide for long-term, measurable nitrogen reductions and provide financial data detailing economic viability.
  • Twelve valid entries were received from people in Rotorua, the wider Bay of Plenty and Auckland. 
  • Ideas submitted ranged from changes to land management practices and robotic devices to treat urine patches, to alternative horticultural crops that could be grown in the Rotorua district.
  • Prior to final judging, entries had to pass a Science Panel of three respected nutrient experts from around the country to assess nutrient calculations. Three entries did not pass the science panel review.

The judges:

Bill Murphy founded Enterprise Angels, a Bay of Plenty angel investment network which has seen $9 million invested in 29 deals.  He has over 30 years’ experience gained in roles as a business owner, general manager, chief financial officer, accountant, business advisor and investor in the US, UK and New Zealand.          

Cheryl Reynolds is the inaugural Chief Executive of the Momentum Foundation and is the founder of SODA Inc, the Waikato's Entrepreneurship Hub. She is a researcher, innovator and entrepreneur with 20 years’ leadership experience at national and international levels.

Dr Warren Parker is the Chief Executive Officer of Scion with a strong track record in science and technology leadership and substantial experience in building productive science-industry relationships. He has received a number of academic awards and has served on panels and advisory boards in New Zealand and Australia and as a director on technology start-up firms.

Dr Charlotte Severne  spent 11 years as a chief scientist on the NIWA Science Executive, supporting growing Māori research capacity and transforming science into action for Māori communities and businesses. She was appointed to Callaghan Innovation as Interim General Manager Maori Economy in 2013 and works with Māori businesses as a science advisor and in governance roles on energy, fisheries and farming entities.  

Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes - white landscape