Earthquake-proofing technology wins Spark $100k Challenge

23 October 2015
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The University of Auckland Spark $100k Challenge winning teams.

Technology to help new and existing buildings withstand earthquakes has won the University of Auckland Spark $100k Challenge, beating out protein-rich flour made from apple by-products, a glaucoma screening test and a chest physiotherapy device.

The Resilient Seismic Solutions team have created the Resilient Slip-Friction Joint, a market-changing seismic solution that can be implemented in concrete, timber and steel structures. It improves building resilience during earthquakes, makes them safer to re-enter and reduces the need for maintenance after an earthquake. It was created by Dr Pouyan Zarnani, a former PhD student, and Professor Pierre Quenneville, head of the University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

The result was announced at a grand final ceremony last night, with Resilient Seismic Solutions winning $25,000 in seed capital and six months’ residency at Kiwi business incubator The Icehouse.

The Spark $100k Challenge is open to all University of Auckland staff and students, who have to submit a 3,000-word venture summary before a seven-week programme of intensive training, mentoring and workshops. The challenge ended this week with a presentation to judges at a Dragons’ Den-style pitching session.

Spark CEO Angad Nayyar says this year’s entrants – 15 finalist teams from 63 entries – are among the strongest the competition has seen since it began in 2003.

“Over the past two months, the finalist teams have received extensive training and mentoring from entrepreneurs, investors, business people and experts in their field who have all worked hard to help develop business plans and ventures, as they are passionate about supporting the next generation of New Zealand entrepreneurs,” Angad says.

Second place went to Green Spot, who have developed a flour rich in protein and dietary fibre made from apple by-products. They win $15,000 seed capital and three months’ incubation at The Icehouse.

Third place went to EyeLine/InSight Technology for a novel non-invasive glaucoma screen test that will be made publicly available. They win $5,000 seed capital and three months’ incubation at The Icehouse.

The $5,000 UniServices Research Commercialisation Prize went to BreatheHero for their chest physiotherapy device for children combined with an entertaining gaming experience.

Other finalist teams were:

  • Lotus Wear – developing a complete mobile care solution designed to empower seniors to live independently and confidently in the community
  • CanaryEye – a technology company aiming to minimise water wastage on dairy farms
  • Critter Farms NZ – saving the world, six legs at a time, Critter farms endeavours to produce crickets en masse for human consumption
  • Dream Construction – a social enterprise with a house designed to save lives of people in flood-prone areas such as the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam
  • gr8escape – will deliver a safer and better ride experience for motorcyclists by presenting useful ride data at eye level
  • Kappa Diagnostics – committed to bringing to the market a completely new automated computer-based vision testing
  • NanoGene Biomedical Technologies – a novel real-time single cell dynamic bio chip and bio-systems for early diagnosis of cancer and for accelerated anti-cancer drug discovery
  • Simiary – develops software as a service tool to revolutionise geographic exploratory searches
  • Nicely Slotted – a simple, revolutionary device for surfers, eliminating expensive surgery and hearing loss
  • The Learning Collaborative – a youth-for-youth education venture designed to put students in control of their educational success
  • WhereAbles – specialising in wearable blind aid navigational technology which simply attaches to a person, allowing them to detect objects at head or waist height

For more information visit the Spark website.