Griffith helps launch local start-up’s global journey

PowerWells founders Bradley Claire and Nick Kamos with Qld Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp. Photo: Facebook

Logan-based company PowerWells is about to take its innovation abroad, having won the recent national finals of the Pitch@Palace entrepreneurial event – and Griffith University is proud to have played a part in their world-beating journey.

Company founders Bradley Claire and Nick Kamos – who will now showcase their self-contained systems of solar energy production and battery storage at the Pitch@Palace Global finals in London – launched PowerWells at the Griffith Business School-sponsored Social Enterprise Start Up Weekend, held at Substation 33 in Logan, just over a year ago.

The social enterprise was born as a way to address the issue of power reliability in remote communities across Papua New Guinea, Papua, West Papua, the rest of Indonesia and the Pacific Islands, by designing “a small, off-grid energy supply system capable of delivering a basic, reliable power source”, Claire and Kamos say.

“By using electronic waste (e-waste) and ex-commercial solar panels, we can deliver a product much cheaper than alternatives while helping to reduce the amount of hazardous materials going into landfill.

“These PowerWells will be deployed to remote communities, where they will be centrally located for residents to charge their small electronic devices, charge torches and power a light that’s big enough to light up a communal space.”

The Logan Social Enterprise Start Up Weekend, which provided the platform from which this ambitious project launched, is facilitated by GBS alumnus Ayla Souter alongside Substation33’s Tony Sharp, who earlier this year became one of four inaugural Social Entrepreneurs in Residence operating out of Griffith’s Yunus Social Business Centre.

It is a part of the Advancing Regional Innovation Program (ARIP) Logan/Redlands region, and has been sponsored by Griffith Business School since 2017’s inaugural event.

Yunus Program Manager and Logan and Redlands Regional Co-ordinator Ms Celeste Alcaraz said it was encouraging to see a social enterprise with roots in the Start Up Weekend go on to achieve at such a high level.

“Griffith University, along with Logan City Council and Redland City Council, are the lead partners in the Queensland State Government’s Advancing Regional Innovation Program, which aims to turn our regions into hubs for innovation and enterprise,” Ms Alcaraz said.

“PowerWells’ success at the national Pitch@Palace event is demonstrative of the program’s worth in real terms, with the delivery of vital technology bringing real benefits to remote communities, and we wish them all the best for the Globals event in London.”

The ARIP is a partnership between Griffith University, Logan City Council, Redland City Council and seven other partners including Substation 33 and the Social Enterprise Network Logan.

The $1 million matched funding program is enabling local entrepreneurs, business leaders and key industries to collaborate closely and with government to harness innovation and unlock business potential, strengthen existing industries and prepare regional Queenslanders for jobs of the future.

The innovation ecosystem in Logan is facilitated by the Logan Innov8 leadership team, of which Ms Alcaraz, Mr Sharp and Ms Souter are all a part.

For more information about the Innov8 network, see its website.

Learn more about PowerWells here.