Thinking Smart … The Other Economy
By Stefan Olsen
BayBuzz asked writer and consultant for sustainable businesses Stefan Olsen at Ed (Empire Design) to write a series of articles about businesses in Hawke’s Bay that are Thinking Smart … using their creativity and technology to add value to products and services provided from the Bay. Says Stefan, “I’m discovering a wide range of companies that are not related to the region’s dominant primary production sector, although there’s no shortage of smart thinking there too!” This month Stefan looks at a high-tech outfit diversifying into rare earth minerals and an online biz that’s bringing convenience to school lunches for kids.
I’m sure you’ll all agree, it’s not often the word ‘trillion’ is mentioned in New Zealand. So would you believe there’s over NZ$30 trillion (that’s a 3 with 13 zeros after it, or $30,000 billion) worth of rare earth mineral deposits (RE) just sitting in and around the country, doing nothing, because nobody knows how to extract them? Well this unfortunate situation was true, until now. Because believe it or not, there’s some super hi-tech activity going on in one of Hawke’s Bay’s industrial quarters, Onekawa, aimed at capitalising on the lucrative RE industry.
Ozone Technologies was founded in 1999 and is owned by Dirk Haselhoff. Ozone has a core team of employees, one of which is Dr. Alexander Rodionov, an internationally renowned PhD chemist.
Dirk and Alexander met several years ago while working together on the upgrade of the Antarctic’s Scott Base wastewater treatment plant. The plant treats wastewater from 80-120 residents and was previously run on costly and polluting diesel generators. Not only did the diesel emissions contaminate the Antarctic, but the fuel was also costly to transport to the base. Antarctica New Zealand solved these problems by installing wind-turbines as a power source, and now their new wastewater treatment system, incorporating ozone treatment designed and built by Dirk and Alexander, only produces around seven rubbish bags of solid human waste annually.
However, there’s much more to Ozone than the commercial, industrial and municipal water treatment systems they’ve been producing for years.
Not too many people know that without rare earth minerals your regular iPhone or Blackberry just wouldn’t be the same, plasma TVs probably wouldn’t exist, and there would be plenty of sunburned people around, seeing as titanium dioxide (TiO2) is found in almost all sunscreens. Furthermore, TiO2 is a necessary ingredient in many paints, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines and toothpastes, just to name a few.
In fact, RE’s are so valuable and important in the manufacture and production of modern-day products that the Chinese Government has been going about taking control of their own national RE deposits and is restricting the export of RE minerals. New Zealand’s RE deposits lie within our iron sands in and around our coastline, and the value of these deposits, per capita, is second only to those mineral deposits found in Saudi Arabia.
So one wonders why, if New Zealand has so much potential in RE’s, it isn’t being mined and extracted right now, or at least in the very near future. Well, according to Dirk and Alexander, that reality is not years away, but merely months. They’ve designed and developed a Halogen process that can take New Zealand’s iron sands and extract RE minerals to ultimately produce compounds like TiO2.
After lobbying local and national government along with private investors in New Zealand for some time, Dirk and Alexander turned to international financial interests to progress their revolutionary pursuit. In no time, investment was found and ADS was formed: seven partners/directors including an international patent lawyer and other members of the Russian scientific establishment. Now, with serious financial backing, and armed with a unique understanding of the process (hence the ability to extract RE products like TiO2), ADS is in a strong position to start tapping into the $30 trillion worth of mineral deposits this country has. Says Dirk, “The new ADOX technology will extract titanium dioxide and other RE’s from New Zealand’s iron sands without pollution, and at cost half that of any current technology. We will have proof in months, not years, and intend to secure New Zealand’s place in history with this technology.” Watch this space, or the headlines.
Dirk started his career in the Waikato with heavy machinery process control systems, before venturing overseas for several years working in the early development of fibre optic technology. On return, while taking part in a local motorbike race, he chose to lay his hat down in Hawke’s Bay. Dirk mentions the usual reasons for living in the Bay (weather, wine, food) but he specifically draws attention to the options and quality of local schools. With the likes of Hereworth, Lindisfarne, Woodford and Iona, there’s some heavy incentive here for parents wanting to go the extra mile for their childrens’ education, and settle down in Hawke’s Bay.
So next time you’re driving down Prebensen Drive and see the Ozone Technologies signage, just remember, there’s much, much more going on there than the environmentally-friendly and chemical-free water treatment systems!
It’s Monday morning (again) and you’re running late. You also forgot to nip down to the supermarket last night to pick up your kids’ lunch-box fillers. Pantry and fridge are near empty. What do you do? Jump onto lunchonline.co.nz and before you know it the kids will have a nutritious lunch ordered, paid for and delivered to their school just in time for the midday bell.
In early 2010 a local Hawke’s Bay school asked Jason Heaven to start taking and making lunch orders for its students. Pretty quickly Jason found that although it was no problem making-up the lunches the logistics of managing the orders and their payments was just not going to work. So, having already forged a relationship with ABC Software for his café supply software, he gave them another call. And within no time lunchonline.co.nz was borne.
This is how it works. Parents register along with their children’s details (name, school, class) at lunchonline.co.nz and advance credit their account – much the same as one does on Trademe. Then, whenever their kids need lunch, they simply log-in, select from the school’s menu options, press ‘go’ and that’s about all there is to it. Providers such as Heaven’s, Jackson’s and BJ’s bakeries collect online orders by 9am, make them up, before having them delivered just in time for the lunch-time bell. I certainly like this idea, but it seems too good to be true. Surely there’s a catch? Maybe the food is over-priced – relative to the convenience perhaps? Or is the menu full of junk food? Hmmm … I wonder.
So I quizzed two of the founding directors, Sharon and David Chapman. Turns out, in most cases, the lunches work out cheaper than buying direct from a provider such as your local bakery – many orders total between $4 and $5. But what about the quality of the food? Well, it all depends on what the provider is offering, what the school chooses to accept on their lunch menus, parents’ selections, and of course the taste-buds of the children. The Chapmans explain that with any given provider potentially offering a wide array of items, individual schools can easily pick and choose which foods they want their students to be consuming. What’s more, schools can choose to offer ordered lunch once, thrice or every day of the week. Perhaps sausage rolls and lamingtons, but only on Fridays?
This innovative initiative has only been running since August 2010, with Tamatea Intermediate serving as the pilot. Says its Principal, Roy Sye, “Lunchonline allows us to provide an extensive and healthy range of food. Everything’s managed completely off-site. There’s no cash handling and no liability for the school whatsoever. The lunches just get delivered and the kids come and pick them up.” Furthermore, lunchonline shares their profit margin with participating schools thus giving back directly to local Hawke’s Bay communities. Liking that approach.
Lunchonline.co.nz is owned and directed by two ABC Software staff (Sharon Chapman and Julie Gillies), along with Jason Heaven and David Chapman. And they all live and breathe Hawke’s Bay. Sharon explains however that in her younger years she couldn’t wait to exit the Bay and get out to see the world. But that was a (little) while ago and locally things have changed dramatically over the years.
Says Sharon, “It really is humming here now, there’s a great mix of people and some fantastic things going on. And just last week myself and a couple of friends decided we’d take a three day tramp around Lake Waikaremoana. Within a couple of hours we’d arrived and were walking in. Try doing that ex-London! Not only would it take all day to get somewhere only a fraction as stunning as Waikaremoana, but when you did arrive there’d be crowds of others doing the same.” We really do love the Bay for the ability to do things like this.
The Chapmans also point out the abundance of summer-time entertainment on offer in Hawke’s Bay. Not only do we have stalwarts such as the Mission and Church Road events, but there seems to be a steady stream of outdoor food, wine and music festivities right through the summer. Add to that a sport-mad population that offers the full gamut of team-sport to participate in.
The plan is to continue rolling-out lunchonline throughout Hawke’s Bay, and there’s also plenty of interest being expressed further away in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Nelson, Greymouth.
And while I was interviewing the Chapmans, David took a call from Jason Heaven to say a new provider had come onboard in Dunedin! With such a great idea it’s not surprising that things are steaming ahead. So next time your ‘alarm doesn’t go off’, you know what to do.