A plastic bucket, a handful of recycled computer batteries and a heap of ideas has delivered two Logan-based inventors a ticket to London’s St James’ Palace this week.
Brad Clair and Nick Kamols were last month named co-winners of the Australian section of The Duke of York’s global Pitch@Palace innovation competition.
Their PowerWells start-up project turns recycled batteries and paint buckets into portable solar-powered kits that produce electricity for off-grid and remote communities.
They showcased their invention to Prince Andrew last month when he visited their development base at Substation33 in the Logan suburb of Kingston.
The Duke clearly was impressed as two days later he named PowerWells and surgical imaging pioneers OncoRes Medical as the Australian contenders for the Pitch@Palace global final this week.
The Logan pair will pitch against 22 other start-ups from around the world before the winner is announced on Wednesday, December 12.
Clair, 27, says it would be nice to win but this week’s Palace visit is more about global recognition and meeting other like-minded inventors.
“This is giving us the social license to become global battery recyclers,” he said.
“The battery industry is growing so much and so fast. If we do nothing about recycling batteries, they would all end up in landfill.
“Our project creates an opportunity to use those batteries for greater good.”
Clair is the founder of social enterprises AMPLFY and Traction, organisations that mentor at-risk youths and other disengaged people to skill them at utilising recycled materials.
Their programs mirror the work done by Substation33 within the Logan community.
“I am lucky I found Substation33 because I am passionate about everything that Substation33 is passionate about,” Clair said.
“They key to success if finding people who are aligned with what you want to do.”
City of Logan’s City Image and Innovation Committee Chairperson, Councillor Laurie Smith, said PowerWells’ achievements and international recognition had highlighted a new era of innovation that is blossoming in Logan.
“The recycling of e-waste program at Substation33 is world-class, our INNOV8 Logan program is connecting start-ups, entrepreneurs, mentors and business and the concept design for the Kingston Butter Factory is due early next year as a signature innovation and entertainment centrepiece,” Cr Smith said.
“It all points to a bright and exciting future for Logan.”
Irrespective of how they fare in this week’s judging, Clair says the next step is to fine-tune the prototype PowerWell then to take the design to remote communities.
“We want to teach locals how to use e-waste to build their own PowerWells,’’ he said.
“It’s going to get harder but I am really proud of where we are right now,” he said.
To vote for PowerWells in the People’s Choice section of the awards go to: https://peopleschoice.pitchatpalace.com/