Climate regenerative agriculture solutions at the centre of Hacktivator 2022

Climate regenerative agriculture solutions at the centre of Hacktivator 2022

RMIT’s latest innovation competition set off new ideas to curb climate change to support the launch of Xylem Capital’s RE:GEN ASIA initiative.

Held over four days, Hacktivator 2022 offered students and alumni of universities in Vietnam a taste of the entrepreneurial journey through rapid innovation challenges.

Xylem Capital, in conjunction with the Swiss development organisation Helvetas Vietnam, sponsored the event. The competition was run by RMIT University’s growth engine for innovation and entrepreneurship – RMIT Activator.

Participants were asked to come up with ideas to tackle the core question: “How might we create the next groundbreaking company while tackling climate change through agriculture?”

Regenerative agriculture is the idea of farming practices that reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, secure future food supply and restore the health of the planet through healthier plants and animals.

Across the world, the exciting possibilities of regenerative agriculture are being explored in innovative farming communities and on individual farms. In particular, regenerative agriculture looks to replace industrial agriculture techniques like mono-cropping, overuse of harsh chemicals and deep tilling. 

The Hacktivator challenge let participants think freely about the solutions grounded in regenerative agriculture practices. Over three days, they were guided through RMIT Activator’s proven challenge model, ending in a pitching competition in front of a panel of judges.

Group shot of participants, judges, coaches and organisers of the Hacktivator 2022 competition. Hacktivator 2022 offered a taste of the entrepreneurial journey through rapid innovation challenges.

Among the seven finalist teams, Borlaug's Dream Farms [named after distinguished American agronomist Norman Borlaug] became the grand winner of the competition. Their idea was to refine rice straw with yellow mealworm and black soldier fly to produce fertiliser, protein feed, and biodiesel.

The winning duo, consisting of an RMIT Vietnam alumnus and an undergraduate student from Vietnam National University - Ho Chi Minh City, were motivated to join the competition to interact with like-minded innovators and make new connections.

“We appreciated the opportunity to work together albeit for a short time, as well as the opportunity to meet and learn from the instructors, judges, and other competitors,” the team said.

The top three teams of Hacktivator 2022. The top three teams of Hacktivator 2022.

The Hacktivator model is designed to foster a healthy competition, where real-time industry connections are present for advice and guidance throughout the experience.

It is a pathway where industry partners can explore big ideas in a simulated ideation environment and spark a lifelong entrepreneurial journey in students.

Xylem Capital co-founder Matthew McGarvey said: “Our firm is focussed on developing the next generation of entrepreneurs who are looking to create nature-based solutions to tackle the challenge of climate change. This hackathon was a big step toward fulfilling that mandate.”

This year, the competition welcomed guest speakers, judges and coaches from Xylem Capital, Organica, RappiPrime, EQUO Co., Phitrust Asia, Orlar Vietnam and SNV.

RMIT Activator Director Matt Salier said: "Startup is a real career pathway – its journey is never easy and we’re here to help.”

“Hackathons like this boost creativity and explore the art of the possible, as participants are able to use innovation frameworks in ways to unlock value in new and emerging industries.”

“At Activator we love the opportunity to bring this incredible process to life and we were so pleased to have been sponsored by Xylem Capital and Helvetas, who were able to provide exceptional ongoing expert support to teams on this initiative,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Jos van der Zanden, Regional Manager Biotrade Project at Helvetas, said: “We at Helvetas are proud and excited to be associated with the eco-hackathon to find the next generation of Vietnamese young entrepreneurs who have the motivation and vision to develop a sustainable value chain of eco-friendly products to conquer the world.”

Current RMIT students who want to get involved in the next entrepreneurship program by RMIT Activitor can sign up to the annual flagship Future Founders Competition.

Story: Ngoc Hoang, Charlotte du Rieu and Jennifer Mulyawan

  • Activator
  • Sustainability
  • Industry
  • Community

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