Ready, Set, Pitch

3 November 2015

On Friday, 29 October the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre hosted UNSW’s first Grand Challenge Pitch-Off with three students winning a trip to the Paris Climate Change Conference: #COP21 in November. 

The Pitch-Off is the culmination of a campaign that has been running for the last month on a unique online platform called UNSW Ideas.

Held during the UNSW Climate Change Music and Innovation Festival, Pitch-Off participants had two minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of three judges. Ideas were judged on their innovative nature, practicality and scalability and participants were judged on the quality of their pitch. Judges included guest judge Dr Rochelle Duval from the US Environment Protection Agency; Brad Furber, Chief Operating Officer, Michael Crouch Innovation Centre; and Aaron Magner, Director, UNSW Safety and Sustainability.

Although only two top prizes were planned, the quality of the entrants was so high the judges made the decision to pick three overall winners who will soon be winging their way to the Paris Climate Change Conference: COP21 in November. 

The winners were:

  • Andrew Beehag with “People un-power”, an app and a building management system that allows real time voting on air conditioning comfort
  • Matt Hale with “UniSun”, A de-centralised, cooperative approach to UNSW’s Renewable Energy Generation
  • Lindy Hua with “Waste Reduction Mission”.  

Rommel Macaraeg with his, “Everyday Rewards System that promotes climate change” was the runner up and won a GoPro camera.

Lindy chose to focus her efforts on waste because she thinks it is closely linked with so many key sustainability issues. “Waste is linked to saving precious resources, reducing the exploitation of land, and addressing water and food scarcity issues. For me, nature and waste are intrinsically linked because what we take, we need to return.”

The Grand Climate Change Challenge is the first issue being addressed in UNSW’s landmark series of Grand Challenges. Each subsequent Grand Challenge will run a similar online campaign with the top ideas selected to a Pitch-Off. Although it was the first competition of its kind on campus, the campaign was a huge success. There were more than 65 ideas posted and over 1,200 votes cast.

UNSW’s Director of Safety and Sustainability, Aaron Magner welcomes the exciting initiative as he sees it as a great way to level the playing field. “This platform provides a great opportunity for ideas to percolate to the University Executive and Senior Management Team from the grassroots level. UNSW is home to many of the top minds in the country, it is great that everyone now has chance to be heard.”