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Announcing the Zero Carbon Challenge!

We're back with a new name and a new focus for the 2019 Challenge.

Will you join us in innovating our way to a zero carbon future?

The first Low Carbon Challenge launched four years ago, thanks to Wellington City Council taking a chance on a new partnership between government and business to develop the low carbon sector and get a few great Welly businesses going along the way.

Since then we’ve seen more than 80 teams apply and 20 complete the programme. We’ve watched as alumni like Mevo, Organic Dynamic, and Wā Collective have grown into thriving businesses doing their part to help Wellington reduce its carbon emissions.

Currently, Wellington City produces net 1.1 million tonnes of carbon every year. If we could trap those emissions in a balloon, it would hold 603 billion liters, and be 675 times the volume of the Westpac Stadium. To stay in the climate safe zone, we need to cut emissions by half in the next 11 years, then to zero by 2050. The Council’s Te Atakura - First to Zero blueprint outlines a plan to do just that.

A zero carbon future will require everyone to work together to make significant changes, from individuals through to communities, businesses, organisations, and local and national government. That’s why we’ve renamed the challenge from the Low to the Zero Carbon Challenge - to better reflect the urgent need for decisive, collective action to address climate change.

ZCC is a partnership between the Wellington City Council and PledgeMe, this year’s delivery partner. PledgeMe has been involved in the Challenge since the very beginning, helping teams crowdfund and validate their ideas, and we're thrilled to be stepping up to a bigger role this year. Initiatives like this take a village, and we’re grateful to our other partners Callaghan Innovation and Five & Dime for supporting this important mahi.

We partnered with Callaghan Innovation because like us, they reckon Kiwis can lead the world in developing technology that accelerates positive environmental change. We knew they could provide the ZCC ventures with the insights, R&D expertise, and funding to grow faster. They've worked with businesses that are developing technology solutions to issues such as species under threat, water pollution, the loss of productive land due to urban expansion, and a warming climate.

We are proud to support the Zero Carbon Challenge, with its aim of embedding more low carbon businesses within our community. It's also why we are introducing the C-Prize technology challenge later this year - a competition to discover New Zealand's next generation of innovators with a technology idea that will have a positive impact on our environment. If you think that's you, then stay tuned for C-Prize updates at' - Callaghan Innovation

The programme has shifted in focus slightly to concentrate on getting fledgling businesses funded and growing. Startup weekends and early stage accelerators are doing great work to generate and validate new ideas, and ZCC looks to pick up where those leave off and get more great ideas set up, funded, and off to the right start.

We're looking for teams who've already done some validation work, have a prototype or MVP (minimum viable product) on offer, or are even already up and running, and looking for funding to help them take the next step. Preference will be given to teams addressing one or more of the four target areas - Housing and Building, Energy, Waste, or Transport - but if you're helping reduce carbon emissions another way, we'd love to hear from you.

ZCC will continue to offer mentorship and networking across Wellington, as well as a $1000 stipend to support each team's journey, but with more time spent refining your story, engaging with your crowd, and planning for the future to prepare for your PledgeMe campaign. After eight weeks of workshops, mentoring, and training in June and July, all teams will launch a PledgeMe campaign to fund their growth.

The Zero Carbon Challenge equips new ventures with the tools and connections they need to succeed long past the challenge. All successful PledgeMe campaigns will have access to matched funding from the ZCC partnership Fund, currently sitting at $45,000 (and growing? Get in touch if you're interested in supporting the fund!) to keep scaling their venture.

Applications are now open until 19 May 2019, so start thinking about your venture and how the Zero Carbon Challenge could help you take it to the next level.

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