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Source: Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

15 Sep, 2020

X Challenge is an entrepreneurship competition which gives our students the opportunity and guidance to develop an idea for a business, cause or project.

The Challenge involves several rounds, starting with a quick-fire round called The Idea. Of the 188 entries received this year 40 winners were selected and awarded $250 cash. This is then followed by The Accelerator programme, which guides teams through a process of tweaking their idea and putting together a business plan. Out of 31 entries for this stage, eight finalists were picked by a panel of 16 expert judges. The Accelerator judges were impressed with the overall standard of entries, with judge Chris Sutton, saying, “what a great bunch of students. New Zealand’s future is in safe hands if this is the calibre of graduates”.

The eight finalists are now working with their industry mentors to refine their ideas in preparation for the final pitch night on Monday 16 November. With over $50,000 of cash and prizes up for grabs, all teams are highly motivated to impress the judges. This year’s panel for the pitch night will consist of the following judges: Dr Michelle Dickinson (Founder of Nanogirl Labs), James Hurman (Founding Partner of Previously Unavailable), Brittany Teei (Founder of KidsCoin) and Derek Handley (Founder of Aera Foundation).

Meet the 2020 X Challenge Finalists:

The Green Brewer

A waste-to-energy device that simplifies on-site organic waste management and reduces energy expenses.

Danilo Pérez & Freddy González – Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies


A virtual hug to assist with the anxiety of being alone.

Gayle Lee & Jessica Vea – Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies


Revolutionizing the agriculture industry using AI and drones.

Leo Dong, Viliami Tuanaki, William Shin & James Zhang – Faculty of Business, Economics and Law

Mindful Muslim

The world’s first Islamic mindfulness app to improve emotional and mental well-being.

Mohd Akhtaar & Rahul Kumar – Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies


A free makeup app using advanced AR technology.

Ilham Akhlaqi – Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies


Real-time construction industry waste assessment.

Gaurav Pathak, Asaad Mohammad & Rohit Gade – Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies

Sound Balance Labs

Acoustic panels designed to optimize comfort by varying sound absorption in a space.

Megan Burfoot & Lachlan Wolfe- Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies

Vehicle Mate

A mobile app which aims to eliminate the hassle of automotive admin whilst also helping to keep vehicles safe.
James Cherryman – Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies

Last year’s winners – where are they now?

The winner of last year’s X Challenge, Sonnar Library, a cloud-based platform for sharing accessible audio content via voice-activated smart speakers, has continued to garner success. Sonnar is now expanding their product to other countries, working with the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the UK and Vision Australia.

Sonnar CEO Jarek Beksa said the X Challenge experience was invaluable. “The most valuable outcome of X Challenge was meeting our mentor. The prize money was very useful, however the advice and networking was priceless,” said Jarek.

Useful links: