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Dunedin startups commit to waste minimisation

12 Jul 2019
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A group of Dunedin locals with a passion for waste minimisation put their collective heads together last weekend, as part of Startup Dunedin’s inaugural Waste Jam.

Waste Jam, a 48-hour event designed to create new ways of minimising waste in Dunedin, attracted fifty people including Plastics NZ CEO Rachel Barker.

Twelve teams formed over the weekend all intending to contextualise and move forward with their ideas, or collaborate with another organisation to make them happen.

“Half the challenge is getting the right people in the same room as each other,” says Startup Dunedin’s Rachel Butler, who coordinated the event.

“Many of the attendees were already working on projects that made a difference in the community. Waste Jam was about giving them the opportunity to collaborate.”

Guest speakers included chief executive of Dunedin City Council Sue Bidrose; Plastics NZ CEO Rachel Barker; Dunedin City Councillor Jim O’Malley; and KiwiHarvest founder and CEO Deborah Manning.

Dunedin City Council allocates up to $40,000 per year for innovation and development in minimising waste. Collaborative projects are encouraged, but unfortunately the fund typically receives very few applications. In response, Startup Dunedin launched Waste Jam to facilitate more applications.

The weekend was facilitated by the Social Experiment cofounder Alice Marsh, and Otago Polytechnic learning and teaching specialist Ray O’Brien.

“[Waste is] one of the great challenges of our time,” says O’Brien. “No council, government or organisation is equipped to deal with waste effectively on their own. We all need to do our bit.”

The weekend also featured a ‘human library’ of 20 experts in various fields who were available to give advice.

Louise Evans is a Design Sprint expert who travelled from Invercargill to mentor over the weekend. 

“It’s exciting to see this level of collaboration in the south,” she says.  “The weekend was full of plenty of ideas but more importantly a wealth of people that are committed to action.”

Startup Dunedin created Waste Jam in collaboration with the Otago Polytechnic, University of Otago and Dunedin City Council.

Startup Dunedin is a not for profit trust with a mandate to facilitate and co-ordinate the growth of the Dunedin startup ecosystem. It provides resources such as coworking spaces, events, networking, education for first-time founders, the Challenger Series business acceleration programme, and more.

The board currently comprises eight volunteer members and has representation from Dunedin’s entrepreneurial circle as well as representation from the University of Otago and the Otago Polytechnic.