2020 Innovation Challenge Prize Giving done differently

This year, Velocity held its very first virtual prizegiving ceremony on May 28. It was exciting to see hundreds gathered on Zoom to celebrate the winners.

The Innovation Challenge is a key event for the University of Auckland’s entrepreneurship programme Velocity. Students and staff are invited to share a venture idea to solve a problem, big or small. Each 1,000-word entry is assessed and considered for a $1,000 prize with 10 prizes up for grabs this year. The year’s competition had two new prize categories dedicated to solutions to social or economic challenges created by COVID-19.

Rachel Tan, who is a past winner of the Innovation Challenge and 100k Challenge shared her journey participating in both competitions and tips on how to get involved in the entrepreneurial eco-system. “Keep going and believe in idea or innovation you have,” she shared for those who’ve just started on their entrepreneurship journey.

A total of 263 entries were received this year. Problems tackled included COVID-19 disruption, microplastics disposal, pet data management and marine health.

Prize winners or not, all entrants were offered judges’ feedback and advice on how to develop their entries further. This is an excellent opportunity for entrants to receive quality feedback from industry experts to help them to further develop their ideas Everyone who has entered the Velocity Innovation Challenge is encouraged to enter the Velocity $100k Challenge where they will be coached on how to write a business plan. Entrants will then compete for part of a $100k prize pool, including an opportunity to enter the University’s six-month VentureLab incubator.

Velocity would like to thank all the sponsors, entrants, judges and supporters of the 2020 Innovation Challenge. The passion and enthusiasm that participants have shown was very inspiring to the entire Velocity community. We look forward to seeing how Velocity will next support all those involved.


2020 Velocity Innovation Challenge winners’ elevator pitches


COVID-19 social innovation prize

CircleOut – CircleOut is a digital learning platform that lets young people learn from one another in a safe and supportive environment. We draw from indigenous knowledge systems and practices to unify technology, community, and education under the belief that life and learning are one and the same.


COVID-19 commercial innovation prize

RosterLab – A world-leading web app for automatically creating the highest quality rosters for hospitals, utilising the latest in artificial intelligence research and harnessing the power of cloud computing. Our rosters will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and lead to better patient outcomes all over the world.


Commercial innovation prize winners

FishBox – The marine life around New Zealand is a priceless commodity, yet both the people in the fishing industry and those that police the fishing industry use inefficient manual processes to measure and classify hauls of fish. FishBox is a modern solution, for efficient management of this precious resource.


G-VentOX – The current COVID-19 infection pandemic has required mechanical ventilation over prolonged periods in order to maintain the oxygenation of many patients. However, outcomes of ventilated patients have been abysmal. We have a new experimental device that will improve patient oxygenation and thereby improve patient outcomes.


Nikau Robotics – Woodworking on construction sites is currently a human-intensive process relying on skill and traditional power tools.  Nikau Robotics is developing an automated woodworking machine that aids in on-site construction. The machine improves cut quality, reduces material wastage, and results in faster, cheaper builds with greater design flexibility.


Pet Pocket – Are you finding it difficult to access your Pets data?  Are you visiting multiple platforms to do so? Introducing Pet Pocket, a cloud based software available on all devices. Pet Pocket will be the first software in New Zealand which integrates all pet related data into a single platform.


Social innovation prize winners

Beacon – Beacon is a social enterprise looking to develop an accessible culturally diverse mobile platform for early intervention of young adults suffering from mild to moderate mental health turbulence.


Ethigo – Ethical traveling has never been easier. A one-stop website to educate, promote, and provide travelers with the guilt-free accommodation. We find local accommodations, fund community-led projects to improve conditions, and we direct tourism to those who need it most. Ethigo gives eco-friendly producers of the world the chance to flourish.


PuriFibre – Media have recently reported on how microplastic fibres are being emitted from our clothing when cleaned in the washing machine. The fibres enter the waterways, harm marine life and therefore humans when they enter the food chain. PuriFibre is a ball thrown into the washing machine and traps microfibres inside.


ZeroC – Consumers want to make better choices to reduce their shopping emissions. ZeroC is a service that turns food producers’ carbon-equivalent emissions into an easy-to-understand rating system to help make more sustainable decisions. Our rating empowers consumers to reduce their carbon footprint and incentivises producers to employ more environmentally friendly processes.


Time stamps to skip to teams’ pitches:

  • RosterLab, 15:50
  • CircleOut, 17:35
  • PuriFibre, 19:15
  • Fishbox, 20:50
  • G-VentOX, 22:25
  • Nikau Robotics, 24:15
  • Ethigo, 25:50
  • ZeroC, 27:40
  • Beacon, 30:15
  • Pet Pocket, 32:15