The New Zealand Aerospace Challenge 2019 is set to recognise one of the biggest issues facing the agricultural sector – sustainability.

Applicants are being asked to develop a product or service that detects, monitors or measures water or soil pollution using the very latest satellite and unmanned aircraft (UA) technology.

The team at Soda Inc. thought this was an awesome opportunity so last week we hosted the event organisers and SpaceBase co-founders, Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom and Eric Dahlstrom with guest speaker Aslan Wright-Stow, Environment and Catchment Team Manager and Environmental Stewardship Research Programme lead at DairyNZ, during their roadshow throughout New Zealand.

Emeline and Eric believe that New Zealand, with its rich history of innovation and agriculture, has the opportunity to lead the rest of the world in this exciting and important field.

The winner of the New Zealand Aerospace Challenge 2019 will be at the forefront of this highly anticipated field of research and development.

“Most people ask, ‘why create a space industry in New Zealand?’, for us, we believe we really are living in exciting times and the technology that was once only available to big governments and aerospace companies is now available for anyone with the know-how wanting to access it,” Emeline said.

She said because the technology was so widely available it meant more people could create solutions with it and that’s what the Challenge was all about.

Eric said the Challenge would appeal to those from the science, research, technology, innovation and education eco-systems and those with an interest in agricultural technology and sustainability.

Aslan said the challenges DairyNZ faced as a sector were mainly in the environment space, and in particular the water space.

“It revolves around community trust and I think there’s a big opportunity for people wanting to participate in this challenge to help provide accurate data, which in turn will help build that trust,” Aslan said.

Applications are open now and close on April 30, 2019.

Up to 20 top applicants will be invited into an incubator programme and will receive support for the duration of the Challenge, including:  

  • Access to Airbus satellite data  
  • Access to Airbus SandBox platform  
  • Mentorship and training from technology and agritech specialists  
  • Advice for conducting UA flight tests within recommended areas  
  • Support on flight testing solutions by certified UA operators  
  • Guidance from Airways for testing UA solutions

At the end of the incubation period, up to 10 finalists will be selected to participate in the final demo and pitch sessions in Christchurch.

The Challenge will culminate in a national demo and pitch event to be held in Christchurch on 17 and 18 October 2019 where the winning team will be announced.

For more, check out the website.