Waikato students awarded for enviro-tech innovation

5 September 2018

Waikato students and CarbonKiwi creators William Hohepa, Elisha Fleming, Nick Humphries and Stephanie Hay.

A group of Waikato students came second in the national MYOB IT Challenge last weekend and plan to launch their idea as a start-up.

Going head-to-head with top teams from Auckland, Victoria and Canterbury universities, the groups were tasked with developing a technology solution to a real-world problem faced by small-to-medium businesses.

Management School students Stephanie Hay, Elisha Fleming and William Hohepa, and Engineering student Nick Humphries teamed up to develop CarbonKiwi, a system to track and minimise the levels of carbon an organisation is emitting.

They created a website that allows businesses to calculate their carbon emissions and easily offset them by paying for tree-planting. CarbonKiwi’s working prototype and strong business case scored the group second place in the competition and $1200.

“For us, it was important to anticipate a market, not react to one,” Nick says. “We identified a market that is growing rapidly, and created a fully developed prototype that will meet this demand.

“The competition was a great opportunity for us to meet other innovative students. We were really impressed by their ideas, so we didn’t expect to place.”

MYOB New Zealand General Manager Carolyn Luey says the challenge builds on key skills that employers look for.

“Companies today are seeking employees with different types of skill sets – hiring graduates has evolved from looking for technical competency, to looking for the ability to collaborate and work as a team,” Carolyn says. “The MYOB IT Challenge offers young Kiwis exactly that.”

Elisha says participating in the MYOB IT Challenge pushed the students to see how much they could create in a short timeframe.

“It was exciting to see how our solution developed – from just an idea to a working prototype complete with a strong business case and marketing plan,” he says.

Rachel Kelly, Director at Waikato-based company Ethical AI and a judge for the competition, praised the team for their sustainable and future-focused concept.

“It is fantastic to see young people not only thinking about how a business can make money but doing what is right for the environment. These students are the torch-bearers for the next generation,” she says.

With the technology designed and ready to use, the group already has plans to launch CarbonKiwi as a start-up business.

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