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Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Auckland Transport UniCycle Hackathon

A bike-focused hackathon powered by Auckland Transport challenged tertiary students and young professionals to re-imagine the biking experience in Auckland’s university precinct. Held at Unleash Space, the vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship hub run by the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the hackathon gave participants one day to develop an innovative and engaging idea to encourage the uptake and improve people on bikes’ experience of travelling around Auckland.

Participants shared a passion for sustainability despite coming from a broad range of backgrounds – from backend developers and geospatial analysts to engineers and sociologists. Ideas were pitched at the end of the day to a judging panel consisting of Hannah Jemmett, an AT representative, Ian Fraser, President of The Association of Consulting and Engineering, and Chlöe Swarbrick, MP for Auckland Central. Read more

EV Maritime brings electric ferries to Auckland

Auckland Council recently announced that they have invested $27 million in two electric ferries, set to launch in 2024. The ferries will be designed and produced by EV Maritime, led by University of Auckland alumnus Michael Eaglen, co-founder and CEO.

The ferries will be owned and operated by Auckland Transport, who are implementing and further exploring multiple opportunities to reduce emissions, in line with the government’s climate change reduction goals. It has been estimated that ferries currently contribute to over 20% of Auckland’s public transport emissions. Read more


Future Voices Forum – Voicing the need for a revolution for New Zealand’s natural capital

University of Auckland students and staff were recently given the opportunity to influence the thinking of the New Zealand government and business leaders on creating a sustainable and inclusive New Zealand. The Future Voices Forum was a workshop organised by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Aotearoa Circle. A group of 68 participants were canvased on their thoughts and concerns regarding Transport, Food and Energy. The results were reported back to CEOs from organisations such as ASB, Mercury, Sanford and Treasury at the related Fenwick Forum event.

University community voices the need for a revolution for New Zealand’s natural capital
Listening closely to the next generation’s vision for the future

Orbis Diagnostics – The 15-minute Covid immunity test

Orbis Diagnostics, founded by University of Auckland Faculty of Science professors David Williams and Cather Simpson, is on a mission to re-enable movement during a pandemic by making complex medical testing accessible wherever and whenever it is needed. They have developed an accurate, cost-effective quantitative immunity test for Covid-19 capable of verifying a person’s health status and assess whether vaccines have been effective in as little as 15 minutes. They can process up to 15 samples simultaneously and provide laboratory-grade results at any point of need, such as airports and cruise ship terminals, supporting the safe resumption of international travel.

David also sees potential in other applications for their technology. He says, “It’s a very powerful general method for enabling laboratory instrument-type accuracy of complex measurements of biochemical markers away from the central lab – in local clinics for example. Read more

TectonusTectonus – The venture stabilising the building industry

The team behind Velocity spin-out company Tectonus were inspired to make a difference to the building industry by the devastating Christchurch earthquakes, inventing a superior damping connection. Their device self-centres following a seismic event, allowing a structure to withstand an earthquake and any following aftershocks. The technology can be applied to new or existing structures, requires no post-event maintenance and is cost-effective and compact.

The team that makes up Tectonus consists of several academic staff and former students of the University of Auckland. They have won multiple accolades including the 2015 Velocity $100k Challenge run by the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, being named finalists in the 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards, winning the 2019 Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Awards, and were finalists in the 2020 NZ Hi Tech Awards. Read more – Helping Kiwis get their Covid vaccines is a tool created by nine University of Auckland and AUT alumni that helps people locate an available vaccination centre near them quickly and easily, with the aim of helping New Zealand reach its 90% vaccination target as soon as possible. On the website, users simply specify their location and the maximum distance they wish to travel, and they will be shown all of the earliest available vaccination slots that fit their search parameters in a clean, easy to digest format. After selecting their desired slot, users are taken to the official government website to complete their booking.

The team also released a widget that can be compactly integrated into any website such as news outlets and Microsoft Teams. The design was built around visual clarity and ease of use and supports nearly 20 languages. Thinking about the future, the team hopes to be able to apply their technology to other issues faced in New Zealand and around the globe. Read more


Zenno Astronautics – Pioneering the future of sustainable space exploration

Sustainable space travel may be on the horizon with University of Auckland alumni venture Zenno Astronautics’ development of a fuel-free satellite control and propulsion system. This technology is part of Zenno’s greater mission to create cutting-edge hardware and software that make space exploration sustainable and commercially compelling.

Founded by former University of Auckland Engineering (Honours) student Max Arshavsky, Zenno pioneers applications of super-magnets in sustainable space exploration. Their magnet propulsion system powered by solar panels could, in theory, keep satellites in space indefinitely and remove the need for traditional rocket propulsion beyond what is needed to lift an object into orbit. In 2018, Zenno entered and went on to win the Velocity $100k challenge, delivered by the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Read more