NZ innovators granted $1 million to help decarbonise

The Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund has awarded $1.075 million to four projects aimed at decarbonising Aotearoa.

Grants have been allocated to innovators that are working towards:

  • Creating dairy-identical proteins through fermentation using microbes;
  • An ambitious seagrass restoration project;
  • Supporting the next generation of climate innovators to create change in schools;
  • The roll out of a globally recognised sustainability performance standard for infrastructure projects in Aotearoa.

Director of the Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund, Simon Rogerson, is confident the funding will help create extra momentum for these projects and create a tangible difference to New Zealand’s carbon footprint.

“Innovative ideas that will create real change are fraught with challenges, and funding is a big barrier to many great projects getting off the ground,” says Mr Rogerson.

“The Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund seeks to remove this obstacle. We want to help our funded partners innovate and take their initiatives from ‘just an idea’ to a successful proposition, effecting meaningful change.

“We’re really excited to support our new funded partners who are all passionate innovators and focused on shifting the dial towards the decarbonisation of Aotearoa”.

The Innovation Fund is powered by Westpac NZ and governed via an Investment Board made up of Westpac and Government representatives. It runs two themed intakes per year, and applicants are invited to apply for funding to help them work towards solving key issues and challenges.

The current funding has been awarded under the seventh Innovation Fund intake titled ‘Financing and incentivising the decarbonisation of Aotearoa‘. It aims to tackle global warming and support the creation a more sustainable future.

The theme of the next intake for 2022 will be announced in the coming weeks.

About the Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund:

The Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund is a joint initiative established in 2016. Funded by Westpac NZ and mutually governed by Westpac NZ and the New Zealand Government, its aim is to drive innovation and change to solve real-world issues and help create solutions that are tangible, valuable, and inspiring for all New Zealanders.

We listen to those who want to make a difference – government agencies, organisations, business or everyday New Zealanders who have identified a problem worth solving – and provide funding and expertise to explore, validate, or implement smart solutions. We help connect potential partners and customers in the government and private sector, bringing people together with shared problems or experiences.

Financing and incentivising the decarbonisation of Aotearoa funding recipients:

Daisy Lab

Daisy Lab aims to develop a microorganism using recombinant DNA technology (i.e. ‘precision fermentation’) to enable production of identical dairy proteins without the cow. These proteins can be used in the production of traditional dairy products like yoghurts and cheeses. The final products are suitable for vegans, but their market is any traditional dairy consumer.

Seagrass restoration

Cawthron Institute are developing a blueprint for seed-based seagrass restoration. This blueprint would enable large-scale restoration of seagrass meadows, incentivising the inclusion of seagrass in carbon trading schemes and helping to decarbonise Aotearoa.

The amount of carbon a seagrass meadow stores can vary depending on the species and the environment it is situated in, but overseas studies have shown that some meadows can sequester carbon up to 27 times faster than forests on land.

Students decarbonising schools (Auckland Council)

Auckland Council has created the programme ‘Students decarbonising schools’, which aims to empower students to decarbonise their schools and communities through education for sustainability, the provision of tools, support, and funding.

The funding provided will be issued by the council to school projects to help shape the future of student-led climate action.

The programme will create case studies and make recommendations for how this programme could be scaled up and used across Aotearoa to harness the power of collective action.

Infrastructure Sustainability Council

The Infrastructure Sustainability Council aims to expedite digitalisation of the Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) Essentials Rating Tool for New Zealand infrastructure assets ranging from $5-$99m.

The IS Rating Scheme is a globally-recognised sustainability performance standard for infrastructure assets which is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the NZ Living Standards Framework. It enables projects to evaluate, benchmark and third party verify quadruple bottom line outcomes (economic, social, cultural, environmental as well as governance) occurring at all stages of an assets life cycle from planning, design, construction and into operation.

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