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Judges decide no winner in Rotorua Land Innovation Challenge

Judges decide no winner in Rotorua Land Innovation Challenge

A competition aimed at finding viable alternative land uses for landowners in the Lake Rotorua catchment did not find a winner.

While several entries for the Innovation Challenge were deemed to have potential, the judging panel found they did not address all key components of the competition. Entries needed to provide for long-term, measurable nitrogen reductions as well as provide research and analysis to show the business case detailing the solution’s economic viability.

The competition was run as part of the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme to find solutions to reduce nitrogen from land use for water quality objectives. Entries received ranged from changes to land management practices and robotic devices to treat urine patches, to alternative horticultural crops that can be grown in the Rotorua district.

The final Judging Panel which assessed the entrants’ business cases consisted of four business experts and entrepreneurs; Bill Murphy founder of Bay of Plenty’s Enterprise Angels, Dr Warren Parker Chief Executive Officer of Scion, Cheryl Reynolds creator of Waikato’s entrepreneurship hub SODA Inc and Dr Charlotte Severne, a science and business specialist working with Māori businesses.

The Judges acknowledged the effort entrants put into their entries, but with a $20,000 prize there was a high expectation to provide detailed analysis to support the feasibility of the innovation for alternative land-uses in the Lake Rotorua catchment.

“After much discussion we decided not to award the $20,000 prize money,” Mr Murphy said. “We scored each entry based on the level of innovation, the significance or scale of proposed solution and the business analysis supporting the feasibility of the idea.

“We found some entries were really innovative but didn’t provide the business analysis to support the solution or feasibility. Other entries, while feasible, didn’t score well on the innovation side. Overall no entry scored over 50 per cent and we could not in good conscience award the prize,” he said.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council General Manager Natural Resource Operations, Warwick Murray, said he appreciated the efforts of all entrants.

“This Challenge was no easy task and I would like to recognise the time taken by the entrants who submitted their ideas.

“While we didn’t get an overall winner, the Challenge has helped raise awareness of the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme and the challenges in particular for the Lake Rotorua catchment,” he said.

“The Challenge has reinforced that there is no silver bullet for landowners to reduce nutrient losses. Landowners will need a suite of solutions to reach the nutrient reduction targets.”

Mr Murray said the submitted entries would be used to start a toolkit of alternative land-use options for landowners.

“We are committed to helping find solutions for nutrient reductions and will continue to work with the community, farmers, industry and research institutes to provide options for landowners,” he said.

ends

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