The Dunedin start-up scene is looking healthy, if the response to the annual Audacious competition is any judge – 250 entries were received and coordinator David Wilson said it was tough to pick a winner.
Audacious is open to students of Otago Polytechnic and Otago University and the competition spans over two semesters. Sponsored by the Dunedin City Council, it is designed to showcase Dunedin-based start-ups and provide funding for their growth. In the first semester entrants write a short business case, generally no longer than two pages ,outlining their ideas. The entries are narrowed down to the top four in the second semester, who then complete a longer business plan and prepare an elevator pitch for the judges. After participating in a Dragon’s Den type event winners are announced.
One of the standout finalists was David Cameron from Otago University, who developed an online tutoring system for NCEA students. The LearnCOACH system is currently being reviewed by NZQA. If it is approved it could be one of the first online teaching systems qualified for NCEA.
This year’s winners were Carl Crawford, Fiorenzo Rutschmann and Daniel Hampton (Otago Polytechnic) took home the Best Technology award for their aquarium monitoring tool which sends water temperature, salinity, and oxygen levels to a smartphone using an app.
The overall winner was Ryan Everton, who designed a recyclable plastic cup to replace disposable ones at sports events and concerts. The judges awarded Everton the prize because he secured a partnership with Forsyth Barr Stadium to have his cups used there.
This year’s prize pool was $25,000. Wilson says further prizes include marketing, development training, and business mentorships — which are matched to the particular needs of each project.
Wilson says next year’s competition will be tweaked slightly, and could be the first to be opened to non-university entrants.