Swinburne start-up Relivit wins global award for IP prowess

Relivit, a Swinburne University student start-up, has won a $5,000 global award for the strength of its business plan with regard to intellectual property rights, becoming the fourth team from Swinburne to win the prize.


Relivit is the brainchild of Gareth Williamson, Mark Dunn and Diane Dunn, who studied Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Swinburne University of Technology.


Relivit is looking to combat escalating environment and economic costs associated with waste disposal.


It aims to do this by licensing and commercialising the only commercial-scale technology specifically for recycling absorbent hygiene product waste (nappies, feminine products, etc).


The Relivit team refers to this particular waste stream as “uniquely problematic and unaddressed”.


Relivit has won the Licensing Executives Society International’s (LESI) $5,000 Global Award, presented as part of the 2012 LES Foundation Graduate Student Business Plan Competition.


This award, announced in Boston, goes to the team whose plan best deals with IP rights and its use in the global business environment.


Swinburne was one of 35 teams from around the globe that participated in the competition, hosted by the LES Foundation along with the Licensing Executives Society, Inc. and LESI.


The event, which is now in its ninth year, focuses on business plans that emphasise IP assets, and strategies for how these assets can best be leveraged to reach business goals.


Seth Jones, acting director for Swinburne’s commercialisation unit Swinburne Knowledge, says Swinburne guides its student start-ups through the IP process in “a marketing-type capacity”.


According to Jones, the Swinburne Venture Cup – a venture planning competition for Swinburne students – forms a large part of this process.


“The facilitators bring in external, practical, industry-based feedback on their submissions. When we get into the nitty gritty… that’s where that sort of one-on-one mentoring occurs,” Jones says.


“We have strategic relationships with IP providers – we make sure we engage those parties as regularly as possible because they are the experts in the administration [of IP] – trademarking, the patent side and copyright.”


Jones says some student ventures require an “awful lot of know-how”, which is why it’s so important to call on patent agencies who can offer start-ups insight on what to expect.


“We make sure they’re going into these things with their eyes open,” Jones says.


Using its licensed technology, Relivit plans to build and run advanced recycling facilities where commercial waste management providers will deliver waste collected from washrooms, aged care centres, childcare centres, etc.


The waste will be sterilised and broken apart, and specialised equipment will be used to separate the fibre and plastics, and prepare them for resale.


The high quality wood fibre will be recycled as cardboard, and plastics will be sold for use in moldings and construction materials.


“Half a million tons of this waste is buried in Australian landfills annually, and the cost of dumping in Sydney alone is projected to increase by 50% in the next five years,” Mark Dunn says.


“Relivit will reduce waste disposal costs for its customers, divert 95% of the waste from landfills and reduce direct carbon emission by more than 50%.”


Relivit’s first plant is slated to open in 2013 in western Sydney, with plans for others across Australia, New Zealand and Asia.


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