Meet the talented judging panel of YiA 2020

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Dr Rosie Bosworth, Vaughan Fergusson, Melissa Woods, and Alex McCall generously gave their time to judge the 10th Young Innovator Awards. Their efforts were greatly appreciated amongst all involved including students, stakeholders, and attendees.

We caught up with each of the judges to hear about their interesting journeys leading them towards a life of innovation and success.

Rosie Bosworth – Judge & Speaker

Dr Rosie Bosworth has devoted her career to environmental innovation and sustainable technology development – a career path which came naturally as her passions have always been based around food.

Rosie encourages students to enjoy the journey of life and make decisions based on interests and passions. “If you line up to what you love, then the rest all falls into place and flows just that much easier”.

At this years awards, Rosie spoke to the YiA audience about her achievements and failures. Her inspiring speech encouraged students to “make mistakes, aim to minimise repeating those same mistakes and always fail in different ways because that’s where the greatest learnings take place”.

“There is no wrong road”, said Rosie. “There is no bad road, just be fearless; it is never too late for you to change your path”.

Rosie’s achievements are pretty awe-inspiring. She was part of a team that embraced the technology of lab-grown meat, plant proteins and alternative dairy products, she’s an entrepreneur, has worked in journalism, is a public speaker and has even been a yoga teacher. What’s clear is that her diverse roles and achievements show her dedication, motivation, and determination – great examples of following her own advice, and the same advice she offered to the YiA students.

Vaughan Fergusson – Judge & Speaker

Vaughan prides himself on being weird. Each year, for the last 15 years, he has set himself ‘impossible challenges’ and aims to accomplish them, despite any barriers.

After being told by his doctor that he was ‘morbidly obese’, Vaughan decided to fly to the bottom of the South Island, then cycle from the bottom to the top of New Zealand, starting in Stewart Island and ending in Cape Reinga.

He also set himself a goal to run 1,000 kilometres over a one-year period. Importantly, this now accomplished goal has proved to himself that each small step (such as running 3km per day) helps to achieve larger and seemingly unachievable goals.

He believes the weird things he does, or ‘impossible challenges’, often lead him to his next venture, finding inspiration in the strangest of places. Vaughan believes conformity has restricted risk-taking which isn’t needed in the current day and age – because we’re currently living in the perfect climate for being weird.

He explains, “we should be grateful for them [weird people] because those are the people who come up with new ideas and try something different”. 

Vaughan has a long list of innovative accomplishments which are living proof that supports his theory of weirdness. This includes VendThe Pam Fergusson Charitable Trust and many more projects.

Melissa Woods – Judge & Speaker

Melissa is a creative entrepreneur – despite also being a busy mum of four children, summarising the Woods family as “twins plus two”. 

Life threw the busy family a curveball when one of their children suffered a brain infection leading to Melissa becoming lead caregiver, providing ocean therapy (amongst others) for her unwell child.

The time at home allowed Melissa to start her own food product which needed packaging. The packaging options were frustrating, inspiring Melissa to innovate her own new materials. This was the birth of Salt Bags and Salt of The Earth Packaging.

Deciding to put the food product aside, Melissa’s new focus became the materials which were used. She conceptualised, designed, developed, and took to market, compostable biofilm vacuum sealing bags.

Melissa owns other business-to-customer products and services which all strive to be environmentally responsible and offers to educate customers and the community about plastic and our environment. Melissa’s business-to-business operations are focused on sustainable products and packaging solutions to solve environmental problems.

Melissa wants to educate youth to be critical thinkers, be confident in their decision making and to grow awareness of the environmental impacts of current consumerism.

Her love for the ocean, nature, and keeping the environment pristine, made her a great candidate to be a YiA judge because our world needs forward-thinking, innovative ideas to keep our future environment at the forefront of the decision-making process.

Alex McCall –Judge & MC

Over the past years, Alex has immersed himself into innovation and entrepreneurial projects, leading him to create Nude Greens. Never one to be idle, Alex created Nude Greens during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The idea began when former geology student Alex decided to make compost and grow vegetables on the farm he was staying at, which then naturally morphed for him to focus on healthy soil and microgreens. Microgreens are organically grown whilst also being substantially more nutritious, and require 150 times less water, than their fully-grown counterpart. He summarises his current role into three words: “growth, observation, connection”.

The Young Innovator Awards are meaningful to Alex because he grew up in Tauranga and went to Otumoetai College.

“I believe that the tools and skillsets learned during the YiA program are quintessential to any young innovator, entrepreneur, intrapreneur or human wanting to do things better in the world.”

Alex’s innovation and entrepreneurial skillset were not the only expertise used for YiA – he also did an excellent job hosting the awards ceremony. The audience was captivated by his charming and personable presence on the stage. Once again – a big thanks to you, Alex!

Read more about the judges, here.