“Where there’s muck, there’s brass”. So the saying goes. But in the case of University of Canterbury technology startup Zincovery it’s more a case of, wherever there’s horrid industrial waste there’s zinc. So when chemistry student Jonathan Ring and his Masters supervisor Dr Aaron Marshall discovered just how much of that waste was going down the drain and leaching into the environment, they decided to do something about it.
With environmental stewardship becoming an increasingly hot topic and local manufacturers queuing up seeking help, the chemistry whizzes dreamed up a prototype to test drive processing collected waste. With the support of KiwiNet and with advisory and mentorship from ThincLab at the University of Canterbury Business School the pair put together a plan to take the technology global. Along with financial support from the university, the team also scored a $1 million seed round from both local angels and offshore investors. Jonathan Ring continued to work on developing the business during the summer programme for entrepreneurs at the University of Canterbury Centre for Entrepreneurship, with the support of local mentors.
It’s all in the name. Zincovery literally recovers heavy metals such as zinc from toxic acid waste. The waste is a by-product of industrial galvanising processes used for applying protective zinc coatings to metallic building materials. By applying the research in a clever way, high value zinc is separated out and the acid can then be recycled for further use by the manufacturers. A huge win for the environment.
Zincovery continued its winning ways by outpacing 140 other entrants in the 2020 C-Prize competition. The event judges saw the value immediately and were so impressed that Zincovery walked away with winnings of $100,000 in 2020. Callaghan Innovation sponsors the C-Prize annually in a search for highly ambitious innovators with big ideas for solving environmental problems. The initiative also opens doors for participants to accelerate the commercialisation of research, science and technology.
Zincovery is a participant in the ThincLab Growth Programme. ThincLab is a founder-led business incubator that supports ambitious founders to validate, build and scale business ideas and to commercialise new knowledge and create extraordinary economic value across the region. Companies from within the universities, CRIs and private enterprise across the region are welcome to apply.