Climathon in NZ

This weekend I was one of the mentors of the Climathon run in the Unleashed makerspace at the University of Auckland from Friday to Saturday evening. Over 120 participants ranging from 19 to 75yrs formed 14 teams to tackle big climate change issues for New Zealand.


The Climathon is part of a global movement coming from Europe. Over hundred other cities in the world were hosting a similar event at the same time. For me this is a fantastic sign, that people are not only taking climate change serious but are doing something about it.

The Climathon in New Zealand was run a bit like a Start-up Weekend: people with ideas were asked to give a 40 second pitch on their idea, then group around the big open Unleashed space and recruit a team of up to eight people. The next step then was a Design Ideation process and using the social lean canvas one pager to articulate how a climate change company could look like and operate.


Source: Social Lean Canvas

The next day the 120 participants needed to state the assumptions of the social lean canvas and go out to test at least two of those assumptions with real people outside of the Climathon Group. Some students interviewed potential corporate customers like the power generators, power distributors, corporate sponsors in FMCG, councils, as well as end consumers on Queen Street. For most teams the part of validating the potential impact of their idea and the validity of their business model were the hardest part of the competition. These were the four judging criteria as well: what impact is your idea making, how have you validated this; how are you going to build a sustainable business out of this (not fully dependent on government funding, donation etc) and how you verify that you are using the best business model. In addition to getting the research done and content structured, the teams had several iterations of pitching their ideas. We started with 60 second firepitches, then 90 seconds and 2.5 minutes for the final presentation with 3 min Q&A. You can imagine a lot of the team members were operating far outside of their comfort zone. And that was good. As a mentor it was amazing how some team members grew over the 24 hour event. With some it was very clear that they definitely had caught the entrepreneurial bug. All of the four teams I mentored with Lucy (UX designer from SkyTV) are planing to keep going and drive their idea further. A sense of having to do something about the ever growing climate change issues was present in the room at all times.

The fourteen teams developed ideas ranging from using seaweed as a supplement to livestock feed  and reducing up to 70% of their methane emissions, to e-bike sharing programmes for Auckland, recycling of batteries, incentives for switching to non-individual car commuting, a green fund to support climate change projects, an electric powered boat, an app to scan your waste and tell you how to recycle it and a clever combination of various renewable energy sources with new storage capacity to supply more of our electricity from renewable energy including tidal, wind, solar.

So a very wide spectrum of ideas and solutions to recycling, transport, energy and how to live with growing climate change.

Together with the ideas generated in NZ and the other hundred+ cities all around the world, I feel assured that we are mobilizing and doing something about slowing climate change and developing mitigation strategies and strategies on how to cope with a changing environment.

A big thank you to the Centre of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland, the mentors, facilitator and other elves in the background. I had a great weekend and see a lot of buzz & energy being dedicated to make our beautiful planet an even better place. Check here to read more blogs on this excellent event.

Also see seven mega-trends that could beat global warming.

Please join us on this important journey to stop being inactive and become an activist to deal with climate change.

Contact us if you like to discuss further or get involved with some of the exciting NZ climate change projects.


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