Sustainability Awards switches focus to start-ups

This year’s Australian Sustainability Awards will include a new category titled Sustainable New Enterprise, in a bid to raise the profile of innovative new companies in the sustainability sector.


The awards are hosted by Ethical Investor, a magazine for Australian businesses and investors in sustainability, published by Michael Walsh.


There are eight corporate sustainability awards this year, including the Sustainable New Enterprise Award, introduced specifically to recognise new companies in the field.


“I think that the spirit of these awards is to seek out newcomers,” Walsh says.


“Our other [small business] award – Sustainable Small Company of the Year – has typically been awarded to listed companies.”


“They might have been working on their business model for 10 years – it’s biased towards companies with a proven technology and a proven business model.”


In a discussion with the Australian Small Scale Offerings Board, it was suggested that another award be introduced for new companies – the Sustainable New Enterprise award.


“It’s focused on companies that have been commercialising their technology for up to three years. The judges look at the business model and the application of technology,” Walsh says.


“In terms of why it would be good [to win the award], it’s about understanding who the audience is: ethical funds like Australia Ethical – people whose job it is to be around sustainability.”


“For a new company to get the attention of that audience [would be invaluable]… They’d be in good company.”


A summary of the judging panel notes provides an overview of the eligibility criteria:


  • Each award is about recognising excellence in a single initiative while also noting good overall performance in the category. It’s not a balanced scorecard affair.
  • Achievements are preferred over plans, disclosure, targets and “blue sky”.
  • Achievements that orient the core business towards sustainability principles are preferred over peripheral projects.
  • If the nominee’s core business is all about sustainability, then their achievements have to be something special or very successful.
  • Scale(ability) on the world stage is looked on favourably.
  • If the achievement is about a project, then we should not ignore other aspects of the company’s performance in that category.
  • If the achievement is about overall performance, then this must also demonstrate sector leadership.
  • Preference for technology application rather than promise – business success over scientific possibilities.


Nominations close on October 28 and the awards will be held on December 6 in Melbourne.


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