Friday, 14 June 2024 12:26

Innovators honoured at Fieldays

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Fleecegrow was praised by judges for converting a waste product into something valuable. Fleecegrow was praised by judges for converting a waste product into something valuable.

A sustainable merino wool replacement for rockwool and peat used in greenhouse growing won the Prototype Award at the National Fieldays innovation awards last night.

The Auckland company Fleecegrow was praised by judges for converting a waste product into something valuable.

“Not only does Fleecegrow convert a waste product into something valuable, but it does it by providing an environmentally superior planting material for commercial growers,” head judge Peter Dowd says.

Christchurch’s KiwiFibre won the Early-Stage Award with its regenerative composite textile made from Harakeke fibre. This textile can replace or complement conventional carbon fibre and fibreglass materials in high-performance applications.

“KiwiFibre profiles a potential new primary industry crop that uses an abundant plant in marginal farmland and supports planting for waterway protection,” says co-founder William Murrell.

Head Judge Shane Dooley loved this 21st-century application of a traditional Iwi material that has been used for a thousand years.

“KiwiFibre is a clever application of materials technology and engineering to create a high-performance and sustainable product”.

Events like Fieldays are beneficial for innovators like KiwiFibre, as they can network with investors and corporate decision-makers who can help them progress their ideas and products. On Wednesday, Hyundai and KiwiFibre revealed New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon's brand-new electric rally car, using KiwiFibre for the front and rear bumpers and roof. The car is displayed on Hyundai’s Fieldays site, F70.

WoolAid, from Auckland, won the Growth & Scale Award for 2024. Its hyper-fine merino wool plaster impressed the judges with its strong ambition to scale. The breathable plaster can absorb large quantities of moisture, moving it away to evaporate into the open air and biodegrade in the soil in approximately four months.

WoolAid has already gained considerable international traction, and head Judge Brendan O’Connell commented, “WoolAid has demonstrated an exceptional understanding of user needs and profound knowledge and capability”.

The new Fieldays People's Choice Award voting continues until Saturday, with all 62 award participants in the running. The public can vote by tapping their Fieldays Smart Band at the kiosk at the Fieldays Innovation Hub. The innovation with the most votes will win $2,000, and a lucky voter will win a voucher for $500.

The Fieldays Innovation Awards provide a platform for creative problem solvers to launch, test and promote their ideas to a large group of their ideal target market.

After a record number of entries, 62 participants have shared their ideas and products in the Fieldays Innovation Hub and around the event over the last two days. The five short-listed finalists in each category have had their entries judged by a panel of 15 sector experts.

“This group of innovators represent incredibly hard-working and creative teams who have seen a need in the market and done what they can to fill it”, says Steve Chappell programme, manager, New Zealand National Fieldays Society.

“As our primary industry is met with new and different challenges, it’s innovations like these that will equip us with the tools that we need to thrive,” says Chappell.

“The Fieldays Innovation Awards are putting us at the forefront of what is emerging. It is exciting to see some of New Zealand’s greatest minds, along with entries from around the world, and celebrate their hard work in creating and developing ways to improve and foster the industry”.

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