Geelong’s cleantech potentials explored

Zero carbon and circular economy was on the table – and right in the centre and heart of Geelong, when the region’s cleantech business sector and new innovative start-ups got together for an afternoon at the new City Hall on 11 August 2023.

What we learned from listening to the 25 speakers is that there so much clever science and so many great skills out there, but the startups are missing capital. Great innovation is happening, but it is not quickly enough being taken up by society.

Question to the audience via Slido: What could help the transition to a circular economy go more quickly?
Answer from the audience: Funding!

“The opportunities locally are significant and aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. One of the reasons is undoubtedly the cohesion between the major players like City of Greater Geelong, Deakin University, The Gordon, Geelong Port, Geelong Sustainability, Geelong Manufacturing Council, and the hundreds of other local organisation that are all singing from the same hymnsheet. It’s safe to say that Geelong is leading the way for cleantech in Victoria.”

The Victorian Cleantech Cluster 

Nexus Geelong:
Geelong, the sleeping giant of cleantech and circular economy
“On 11 August, we were thrilled to welcome 140 people from cleantech, circular economy, sustainability and climate action to the Wurriki Nyal Civic Precinct in Geelong for a day of discovery, engagement and connection. This showcase of local innovation and expertise didn’t disappoint, with 25 speakers on stage, 12 companies exhibiting and five start-ups pitching at the Australian Final of the ClimateLaunchpad competition.”

Nigel Murphy from Earth Systems is chair of the board of the Victorian Cleantech Cluster. He rounded off the Geelong event with the kind of encouragement and peptalk that the local innovators and start-up founders in the room so much needed to hear. One word sums it up: Together. Here’s a short excerpt of what Nigel told the audience:

Cleantech startup competition

Five start-up pitches were a part of ClimateLaunchpad – an initiative that works for system change, having already created 12,000 new jobs in the cleantech sector, with the goal of “fixing climate change one start-up at a time”.

Top 3 of the Australian Finals
The three ClimateLaunchpad Australia winners who will now go on to represent Australia at the ClimateLaunchPad 2023 Asia-Pacific finals were:

Cedar – presented by co-founder Catherine Lakeland:

  • Cedar: From July next year, emissions reporting will become mandatory for companies. Cedar has developed a data aggregation model to reduce the costs of emissions reporting, with focus on Scope 3 emissions. Goal: to reduce Australian company emissions by 14% by 2028. This pitch was selected by the judges as one of three national winners.

Cycleau – presented by founder Noemi Florea:

  • Cycleau: Treating contaminated water in remote aboriginal communities – advancing water reuse technology in communities. Eliminating 1.2 million plastic bottles.

Cycleau was elected as one of three national winners of today’s pitch competition, and also received the Audience Award for top-voted pitch presentation by attendees of the NEXUS Cleantech Innovation festival.

and GreenCoat – presented remotely via Zoom by Oliver Pang:

  • GreenCoat: produces retrofittable plasma-coating “smart windows”, reducing a house’s electricity bills by up to 45% and increasing thermal comfort. Targeting real estate service companies as main customers. Goal: Save 70,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere by 2030. Pang’s pitch was selected by the judges as one of three national winners.

“We need to use all the innovation that we possibly can. As a society we are not moving fast enough.”
~ Noriko Wood, Fulton Hogan, a large infrastructure company

Waste Free Events: collaborative waste management events for primary schools. Targeting 95% reduction in landfill at events attended by 1,500 people and more, aiming to save over 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions by 2028.

Jess Hobbs answering questions from the jury.

Environmental Service Pod: a turnkey innovation solution designed for energy independence with a ten-year service arrangement. Solar state-of-the-art products brought together in one package. Research team from Deakin.

Global competition continues
Twelve countries around the globe have announced their Top-3, with another five countries following soon. The semi-finals and finals will be held in November. Check out ClimateLaunchpad’s website to learn more about the start-up’s green and innovative ideas.

If you want to stay up-to-date on who is competing, where, and most importantly, which innovations are deemed best in class, follow ClimateLaunchpad on Facebook, Instagram and/or LinkedIn

Geelong mayor Trent Sullivan welcomed the attendees and talked about Geelong Council’s achivements and emissions goals.

Panel about circular economy becoming a panel about greenwashing and lack of bold legislation.
James Mclennan: Great example of a school that’s saving $70,000 a year on changing their waste services and adopting a more circular system.
Dan Cowdell: in terms of political leadership and new laws, there’s clearly still a lot to get done.

Inspirational panel of local frontmovers in cleantech giving advice to new start-ups.

Geoff Andrews: “Pick a big problem that the world needs solved and that customers are willing to pay for, and talk with a lot of potential customers about your idea – could it work? Communicate! This is a big challenge which often gets missed out.”

Tina Perfrement: “Innovation takes time. The road to success is long and winding.”

Brett Winter, CEO of GeelongPort, talked about the port’s ambition to become Australia’s most environmentally sustainable bulk port.

Noriko Wood from Fulton Hogan: “We need to use all the innovation that we possibly can. As a society we are not moving fast enough.”

Who was in the room?

→ Mik Aidt’s post on Linkedin about the event had 379 impressions.

→ The New Daily – 28 August 2023:
Urgent need for Australia’s climate industry policy
“Business, unions, and civil society are all singing from the same sheet. Clearly, something has changed.”