Climathon Highlights: Australian innovators save the planet in 24 hours

Published 06 Dec 2017

By Katie Vines

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What would you do if you had 24 hours to save the world? Perhaps you’d design an app that helps people prepare for extreme heat waves, or maybe you’d create a battery service to power off-grid homes in Cambodia. At the Climathon event, a 24-hour global “climate hackathon” competition that took place last month, attendees had 24 hours to come up with scalable, unique ideas for addressing the impacts of climate change in their city. It’s all about saving the world one idea at a time.

Climate-KIC Europe’s annual Climathon addresses environmental problems of the world simultaneously in one big race towards the most ingenious and innovative city-specific climate solution. With over 100 participating cities across numerous countries, it is the biggest climate event in the world, and was this year expanded to six Australian cities by Climate-KIC Australia.

Melbourne’s challenge was to build resilience to the effects of extreme heat and heatwaves, an event that is no stranger to Melbourne residents. The event recognised the efforts of two separate teams to award joint winners. ‘Chill Out’ plans to develop a website and complementing app to allow the public to look up and give feedback on locations that satisfy their need for safety and comfort during a heat wave. Whereas ‘The Green Team’ proposed integrating and improving existing green and water sensitive urban design (WSUD) solutions to build a grid of green and cool corridors that connect existing safe and suitable gathering spaces during heatwaves. There’s room for a collaboration there, could a ‘cool corridor’ become a location on the ‘Chill Out’ map? Stay tuned.

In South Australia, the focus was the recently launched Carbon Neutral Adelaide, a program for Adelaide’s ambitious pledge to become the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2050. Thus the goal of this Climathon was to find radical solutions for expanding the program and meeting Adelaide’s *modest* emissions target. The winners were the minds behind the Metro Card Reward, an idea to implement a rewards system into public transportation, where commenters are incentivised to travel on the public transport network instead of their personal vehicles. Point rewards are redeemable by purchasing products and services from sponsored businesses. It’s like frequent flyer points for catching the bus, and all without the heavy price of carbon dioxide.

‘Clean and renewable energy solutions’ was the focus of the city of Bassendean in Western Australia and Sydney NSW Climathons. The ‘Regen Basso’ team took the prize in Bassendean, meeting the goal of “local renewable energy initiatives” by proposing a community scale solar panel installation. In Sydney, the winning team ‘Ease Energy’ proposed facilitating clean energy access in developing countries with a battery swapping service to power houses in off-grids areas of Cambodia. Ease Energy utilises new compact battery technologies, allowing the control of the battery charging process, so the life of the batteries would be significantly extended.

“We are very excited about all the different ideas that came out of the Sydney Climathon 2017

and hope that some of the teams will successfully create businesses to drive impact in Cambodia and the developing world in the future” says Bridget McIntosh, Director of Emerging Markets for Sydney Climathon’s host EnergyLab.

If being the nation’s political capital, the ACT Climathon wanted to find a way to also become the electric vehicle capital of Australia. The goal of Canberra’s climathon was met by the team at ‘reStart’ who simply proposed an on-demand, portable EV charging station. Smart, sleek and efficient; the transport revolution has arrived.

In a true moment of globalisation, cities had the chance to link up via live stream across the states to share ideas and motivate each other, tapping into the global community of climate activists and innovators. This encompasses the vision of climathon which brings locally communities together to ultimately tackle climate change on a broad scale.

The events could not take place without Climate-KIC Australia’s partner institutions, who hosted and coordinated the events across the nation: the University of Melbourne, Curtin University, EnergyLab and the University of Adelaide.

Winning teams will progress to the Climate-KIC Australia Launchpad competition in 2018 and have the chance to take their ideas to Europe. With our young Australian inventors at the helm and 24 hours at their disposal, perhaps the world can be saved after all.

 

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