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Contributed Victoria University of Wellington

A plan to reduce transport demands in Wellington while boosting the eco-friendly e-commerce marketplace proved a winning formula for a Victoria University of Wellington supported start-up.

PoOol has beaten teams from all over the world to win the international Climathon competition. Team members will now head to Paris in December to present their business plan and participate in a three-day workshop as part of the UN climate action conference.

Organised by Climate-KIC (Europe’s largest climate change-focused public-private innovation partnership), Climathon involved teams from 20 cities around the world and included a 24-hour hackathon-style event aimed at finding practical solutions to climate change.

PoOol, made up of Victoria University of Wellington Bachelor of Commerce student Kang Lin, and Isa Miralles and Kim van Sparrentak (graduates from Wageningen University in the Netherlands) developed an e-commerce business model focusing on small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

It aims to help SMEs make sustainable procurement choices while reducing transport demands through collaborative purchasing.

“SMEs easily make up the majority of businesses in New Zealand and collectively have a big impact on the environment,” says Kim. “By bringing them together using e-commerce we hope to reduce this impact by helping them make more sustainable business choices.”

According to Isa, the initial idea came from an awareness of the need for a strong channel to develop the market for environmentally sustainable goods and services, and to connect and facilitate the transactions of local businesses.

“PoOol provides an e-commerce platform for businesses that sell an environmentally friendly product, service or technology,” says Isa. “As well as promoting the market itself, the platform will benefit urban transport logistics by aggregating the deliveries of multiple companies, thereby reducing CO2 emissions.

“It’s estimated that a reduction of 8.1 tonnes per year in Wellington by just the second year of operation is possible.”

In the final weeks of the project the team received mentoring from Geoff Todd, the Managing Director of Viclink, Victoria University’s commercialisation office.

“It was great to be able to provide a support roll to Isa, Kang and Kim to help them develop their winning model, and it was equally rewarding to be involved in such an important and significant global event,” says Geoff.

PoOol were selected from four Wellington finalists before going on to win the international award.

The Wellington Climathon event was sponsored by Victoria University and Wellington City Council, with supporting partners The New Zealand Centre of Sustainable Cities, The Deep South, and Enspiral Academy.