Eco-friendly surfboards, coffee converted into biodiesel and a social enterprise for periods (yes, those kinds of periods) are among finalists selected for a chance to access up to $45,000 in match funding.

Six businesses have beaten dozens of entrants to be named as finalists for the fourth annual Wellington Low Carbon Challenge.

 The challenge, founded in partnership with Wellington City Council, is for existing businesses, startups, or new ideas which reduce the city’s carbon emissions with environmentally-friendly enterprise solutions or alternatives.

Finalists receive business mentorship and advice, as well as the chance to access $45,000 in match funding to double what they earn from crowdfunding during the challenge through partner PledgeMe.

Programme organiser Anthony Cabraal from Enspiral said a record 35 entrants from across the Wellington region made tough judging for the panel.

Entrants with a clear tangible value for a potential market and an ability to make some real impact on waste, transport, or energy were the ones who stood out.

“We were overwhelmed with the number of entrants, but it was those with innovative ideas and from diverse sectors that judges were attracted to.

“This year’s finalists showcase the opportunity for low carbon alternatives or solutions to doing business in Wellington, and we can’t wait to see their ideas grow.”

The six finalists are: Organic Dynamic, who make surf boards from recycled polystyrene and New Zealand timber; Biodiesel Locally, who create biodiesel locally from coffee grounds; Wa Collective, a social enterprise providing a solution to period waste, period poverty and the period taboo; Poly Palace, who are dedicated to making polystyrene as sustainable as possible; the Zero Waste Grocery Store, and Gurgl, with a solution to create jobs from re-selling children’s clothing.

The judging panel consisted of sponsors, previous winners and eco-business gurus, including Anna Guenther (Pledgeme), Tom Pettit (Wellington City Council), David Laing (Vapour consulting), James Bushell (MOTIF) and Silvia Zuur (EXP).

Councillor David Lee from Wellington City Council says the Low Carbon Challenge fosters a healthy innovative spirit alive in the capital.

“There is no question that taking risk, taking on big challenges and asking big questions with bold vision and action are all on the rise in our nation’s capital so we think Wellington really is fertile ground for supporting exciting new ideas that can have real impact on our city and the world.”

Now the finalists have been selected, they will attend a series of business workshops and mentoring.

They will launch crowdfunding for their initiatives on PledgeMe at the challenge finale event on October 31st, and funds will be matched by the Wellington Low Carbon Partnership Fund.

This fund is led by Wellington City Council and supported by Powershop, BNZ and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Previous challenge alumni include Mevo, Misprint and Switched on Bikes who have gone on to expand and grow successful businesses in Wellington by commercialising electric car sharing, electric bike hire, and zero waste notebooks.

Cabraal said the programme is made possible by three main partners: Wellington City Council, Enspiral and PledgeMe.

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