For more than 90 years Sam Walsh’s family has been involved in the timber business, so this year’s winner of the IBISWorld 3P Innovation Competition has seen first-hand the waste and financial loss involved when goods are damaged during the shipping process.
Fresh flowers, wine, fish and seafood, fruit, vegetables and pharmaceuticals can all be spoiled if exposed to the wrong conditions, so Walsh’s idea could save import and export businesses many millions of dollars by ensuring transport conditions are carefully monitored.
“More than 40% of the global fresh flower industry goes to waste. Many industries that sell high value perishable goods have avoidable losses but that shouldn’t be the case with the data we have available today,” Walsh told the audience at the 3P Finals Competition, held at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Business School.
Walsh’s solution is a cloud-based platform to continuously monitor the condition of perishable goods, using advanced sensors attached to shipped items that measure elements such as temperature, humidity, UV light exposure and shock.
“In real-time from the moment you close that box to the moment it gets to the final destination you will know the temperature, light exposure, and increases in shock – you can detect many things,” he says.
The IoTransport platform will record the data in real time on a blockchain, increasing transparency, reducing human inefficiencies and creating a secure way to ensure all parties in the supply chain adhere to the shipping contract.
The IBISWorld 3P Innovation Competition is open to all UTS students in the innovation and commercialisation space and gives them the chance to explore business ideas that consider people, planet and profit.
“Something I’ve learnt in the last few years is that it’s fun to work on ideas you love, but to work on something that has an impact on the world is far more rewarding than something that is purely for profit,” says Walsh.
“This business could have an impact on the lives of many people. It makes such a change in reducing waste, and potentially also animal cruelty, through closer monitoring. That makes this business very enticing for me.”
Walsh is in his final year of a UTS Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation (BCII) double degree. The BCII is a new degree that encourages lateral thinking, entrepreneurship and includes consulting based projects.
“I’m a massive sports fan, and I see start-ups as a little bit like sport,” says Walsh. “It’s a competition where you take a lot of hits every day. It’s hard and you really have to put in the effort to see any results but at the end of the day you’re the one in the ring determining your fate.”
Walsh wins $12,000 in prize money for his idea. The 3P competition has a prize pool totalling $25,000 through the sponsorship of business research company IBISWorld, whose founder, Phil Ruthven is a judge in the competition.
Ruthven says IBISWorld, which is Australia’s largest provider of industry-based research, relies on continuous innovation.
“We keep changing and getting better every year, we just run harder than everyone else,” Ruthven says. “What I love about UTS is that it is the biggest supporter of innovation across all the universities I visit."
High-level business professionals mentor the 3P entrants as they develop their business plans over the three-month span of the competition.
“The mentors have been amazing. I can’t understate the impact they have had on me, and how it has enhanced my idea," says Walsh. "I want to give a huge thanks to UTS, IBISWorld and Katt Robertson for putting on this program – it’s been transformative.”
Runners-up Kieran Holden, Ryan Blackshaw and Rhys Collins won $8000 for ‘Trashed’ – A service that matches customer waste disposal needs with the most effective and cheapest waste management providers.
Third prize of $5000 went to Laura Rojas, Emma Quoyle and Harriet Smith for ‘Wavelength’ – A service that provides the opportunity for busy young professionals to meet like-minded prospective romantic partners through weekly events.
Other finalists in the competition included a platform that enables anyone to create, run and manage their own tours for travellers, a multi-lingual app to screen, monitor and educate users with mental health issues, and a homestay service that focuses on the Chinese International Student market.
This year's judges were Phil Ruthven of IBISWorld, Vivian Quinn from Canon, Richard Stewart from PwC, Peter Bennett from Campbell Page / UTS Council Member, Mark MacDuffie from Commonwealth Bank and Helen Spiropoulos from UTS Accounting.