The winner of the New Zealand Aerospace Challenge 2019 has been announced in Ōtautahi Christchurch.
Seequent, with their cloud-based, global remote sensing solution for monitoring lake water health, was announced as the Grand Prize Winner.
The Christchurch-based team received a cash prize of $30,000, over $15,000 of Airbus data vouchers, $2,500 of legal support and six months of bespoke commercialisation support at Xstart, a tech focused incubator based at the University of Canterbury's Centre for Entrepreneurship.
The Challenge, powered by global aerospace giant Airbus, and delivered by ChristchurchNZ and SpaceBase, sought solutions from across New Zealand to identify, monitor or measure water or soil pollution using satellite data and unmanned aircraft technology.
According to Seequent, only 65 of New Zealand’s 3,820 lakes are monitored for water quality. Their solution will enable remote sensing of water quality levels, with the capacity to monitor an entire region’s lakes all at once.
Daniel Wallace, Seequent General Manager for Civil and Environmental, said the Challenge was a great opportunity to build their solution with technical, business and industry support.
“To be recognised among such an impressive range of solutions is humbling and rewarding for our team,” Wallace said.
“We jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Challenge, which has such huge potential to positively impact sustainability. Organisations can monitor the health of lakes they are responsible for, and subsequently visit just the ones showing health degradation”.
He predicted they could have a 30 per cent global market share of this type of monitoring within four years.
Generously, Seequent donated their cash prize back to the Challenge organisers to be used for future challenges, or as seed funding for small businesses in the aerospace industry.
Andrew Mathewson, Managing Director Airbus Australia Pacific, said the Challenge demonstrated that space technology and sustainability are converging in new and exciting ways.
“Airbus is proud to be a partner in the New Zealand Aerospace Challenge 2019. There is so much opportunity to use satellite data to better manage agricultural activities, but also to combat global environmental challenges like climate change. Seequent’s solution is a great example of this type of innovative and practical technology to enable better management of our environment,” Mathewson said.
ChristchurchNZ hosted and delivered the Challenge and CEO Joanna Norris said Christchurch’s growing aerospace sector would make an ideal host for the post-challenge commercialisation support.
“Christchurch is becoming a hub for aerospace in New Zealand and we’ve got a depth of talent across aerospace, advanced engineering, rocketry and geospatial technology. It’s great to see local company Seequent taking out the Grand Prize. I know they’ll receive a huge amount of support to take their solution global, from their base here in Ōtautahi Christchurch,” Norris said.
Runners up in the Challenge were the National Institute of Atmospheric Research (NIWA) with their user-friendly system to describe a dynamic field-scale nutrient balance and inform targeted pollution mitigation and Drone Technologies NZ Ltd who created a near real-time model of water health along river corridors, accessible to research partners and the public.
The Challenge is the first deliverable under the Letter of Intent signed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Innovative Partnerships programme and Airbus in October 2018.