Live streaming mussel beds in the Hauraki Gulf to individual sponsors, and converting broken vineyard posts to a biofuel are two of the winning ideas that Auckland students have generated in an innovation challenge with a total prize pool worth $32,000.

Run by the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland Business School, the Solve It challenge sought innovative solutions to environmental and social problems posed by four sponsors.

Foundation North asked for ways to improve the health of the Hauraki Gulf, specifically, solutions for high sediment and nutrient levels, overfishing and plant and animal welfare. Yealands Family Wines sought ideas for sustainably disposing of the three percent of posts that break in their vineyards every year. Fonterra invited sustainable packaging ideas. Teach First New Zealand invited ideas for building their brand awareness to eligible students.

The winning team for Yealands claim its idea could make the vineyard, already a pioneer in innovation and sustainability, the first carbon-negative winery in the world. It involves converting broken vineyard posts into a biofuel called biochar through a process known as pyrolysis. Biochar- charcoal from agricultural waste, acts as a carbon sink, removing carbon emissions, as well as improving soil quality to increase productivity.