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International competition identifies billion dollar idea for bio-waste solution

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17 December 2020

An innovative online competition called ‘What’s Your Billion Dollar Idea?’ has provided Indian students with an opportunity to pitch their ideas to VCs and CEOs for the chance to win a virtual internship with top New Zealand companies and universities. The initiative was created by higher education platform Leverage Edu in partnership with Education New Zealand as a way to connect entrepreneurial talent in India with New Zealand’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The top 3 entries won virtual internships with Lincoln University, the University of Auckland and the University of Canterbury.

The ultimate winner was Joel Joseph, a mechanical engineering and marketing student. Joel’s idea is to convert bio-waste into bio-fertilisers and animal feed through enhanced fermentation technology using enriched microbes. The resulting products, which are protein-rich, can then be sold to farmers as animal feed. Joel says that his idea was inspired by the need to solve a local problem. “The unhygienic conditions caused by an excessive accumulation of marine fish waste exists in the town I live in. Being a hotspot fish market, the town excretes a lot of fish waste from fish exporters and markets. I was motivated to solve the social issues caused by this and found an effective process to solve the problem and convert them into value-added products.”

Once Joel made the finalists, he was assigned a mentor – Wendy Kerr, Director of the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Joel says “The support received was overwhelming and beyond anything I expected. They assigned me a great and high positioned mentor. Wendy guided me in formulating the essential requirements for an investor pitch, such as finding the market share and segmentation of the market and tracking my firm’s growth in a better, more presentable manner. She also helped manage the number of slides and information in sync with the time provided for the presentation. She loved my idea and saw the potential for it right from the start, and gave a lot of positive feedback for the work I have done. I was more motivated and goal-oriented after getting mentoring from Wendy.”

Wendy says that both Joel’s idea and the design of the competition itself are inspirational. “The way that the competition has been designed means that New Zealand universities are working together to help global talent address global problems, giving the right support to the right people. Joel’s idea is a brilliant example of social entrepreneurship – tackling a social and environmental problem in a financially sustainable way. He has proof of concept and the right skills and attributes to bring life to his idea, with the right support from the entrepreneurial ecosystem. I can’t wait to see how his venture develops”.

Joel’s prize is specialised mentorship from staff at Lincoln University. He plans to use the opportunity to extend his research and understanding of the agrarian market globally and to further test his products. “After gaining expertise from the internship programme, I hope I will be able to release my product in the market in collaboration with industry. I plan to turn my billion dollar idea into a Unicorn in the not so distant future”.

Nicholas Bing
Nicholas Bing

social media

17 December 2020

An innovative online competition called ‘What’s Your Billion Dollar Idea?’ has provided Indian students with an opportunity to pitch their ideas to VCs and CEOs for the chance to win a virtual internship with top New Zealand companies and universities. The initiative was created by higher education platform Leverage Edu in partnership with Education New Zealand as a way to connect entrepreneurial talent in India with New Zealand’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The top 3 entries won virtual internships with Lincoln University, the University of Auckland and the University of Canterbury.

The ultimate winner was Joel Joseph, a mechanical engineering and marketing student. Joel’s idea is to convert bio-waste into bio-fertilisers and animal feed through enhanced fermentation technology using enriched microbes. The resulting products, which are protein-rich, can then be sold to farmers as animal feed. Joel says that his idea was inspired by the need to solve a local problem. “The unhygienic conditions caused by an excessive accumulation of marine fish waste exists in the town I live in. Being a hotspot fish market, the town excretes a lot of fish waste from fish exporters and markets. I was motivated to solve the social issues caused by this and found an effective process to solve the problem and convert them into value-added products.”

Once Joel made the finalists, he was assigned a mentor – Wendy Kerr, Director of the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Joel says “The support received was overwhelming and beyond anything I expected. They assigned me a great and high positioned mentor. Wendy guided me in formulating the essential requirements for an investor pitch, such as finding the market share and segmentation of the market and tracking my firm’s growth in a better, more presentable manner. She also helped manage the number of slides and information in sync with the time provided for the presentation. She loved my idea and saw the potential for it right from the start, and gave a lot of positive feedback for the work I have done. I was more motivated and goal-oriented after getting mentoring from Wendy.”

Wendy says that both Joel’s idea and the design of the competition itself are inspirational. “The way that the competition has been designed means that New Zealand universities are working together to help global talent address global problems, giving the right support to the right people. Joel’s idea is a brilliant example of social entrepreneurship – tackling a social and environmental problem in a financially sustainable way. He has proof of concept and the right skills and attributes to bring life to his idea, with the right support from the entrepreneurial ecosystem. I can’t wait to see how his venture develops”.

Joel’s prize is specialised mentorship from staff at Lincoln University. He plans to use the opportunity to extend his research and understanding of the agrarian market globally and to further test his products. “After gaining expertise from the internship programme, I hope I will be able to release my product in the market in collaboration with industry. I plan to turn my billion dollar idea into a Unicorn in the not so distant future”.


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