A unique start-up project offering a global circular economy solution for a commonly used piece of equipment has taken out the Most Innovative Business Project Awardat the 2020MBA Australasia (MBAus)Graduate Management Awards.

The sustainable business idea ‘ReHose Solutions‘ was developed by Griffith MBA students Darrin Mackenzie, Winnie Nguyen and Katie McRobert.

ReHose Solutions is a start-up impact focused enterprise specialising in the resource recovery of hydraulic hose waste, extracting maximum value from materials otherwise destined for landfill.

Their unique model involves returning hydraulic hose waste back into the production loop and partnerships with like-minded social enterprises, ethical purpose driven multinationals and local communities helped deliver the winning idea.

MBA Director Associate Professor Stephanie Schleimer said the team had worked tirelessly for nine months to develop a unique, global circular economy solution.

“Winning this award is true recognition for Winnie, Darrin, and Katie’s tremendous team efforts to build an impact-focused start-up that will solve one of the largest global challenges our planet is facing.”

Darrin Mackenzie – Image courtesy northweststar.com.au

Studying an MBA externally from his home base in Mt Isa, where he operates a business servicing the region’s booming mining sector, Darrin Mackenzie said the team considered a number of opportunities before settling on a resource quite close to home.

“I went for a walk around my operations and in my day job, where I run Australia’s largest Enzed franchise,” he said.

“We change hydraulic hoses and a hose is made out of rubber and metal and they’re everywhere. They’re on cars, boats, planes, elevators, practically anything that moves. I thought if I can do something in my industry, which spans many others, we can tick that Impact box.

“A big friction point in my operation is waste, because once you’ve used the hose, and its manufactured to be perishable, and it ends up in landfill and it costs thousands a year to dispose of it.

Darrin’s team-mates needed a little convincing.

Katie McRobert

“It’s an industry which is outside my experience and I hadn’t given this particular waste issue any thought at all but we very quickly caught Darrin’s infectious enthusiasm when we realised the scope of this unaddressed waste issue — and that we could provide a circular solution which would make a genuine difference,” Katie McRobert, who is doing her MBA with Griffith remotely while continuing to work as General Manager at Australian Farm Institute, explained.

“Not only are we now ‘hose converts’, we can see this solution has elements which can be applied to many other waste issues across a number of industries.”

Winnie Nguyen

A pharmacy graduate working in public health while completing an MBA, Winnie Nguyen said the project, part of the Global Business Challenge, had provided an incredible opportunity.

“It was life changing for me. I never really considered resource recovery and the circular economy as a potential industry that would be deeply passionate about but over the past 7-8 months its really changed my perspective,” she said.

“Doing an MBA really gives you a broad set of skills so that even if you think you’re set in stone with what you’re doing now, there are so many opportunities that you can align yourself with and its really opened doors for me.”

With two of three project members studying externally, the trio collaborated remotely for the entire project, with Darrin and Winnie fortunate enough to finally meet face to face.

“We’d never met each other in person until the week of the finals,” Winnie said.

“It was quite an interesting journey for us in that we could bond so well as a team especially through the remoteness of being in different cities. We definitely had a great team dynamic.”

“While our team was geographically dispersed across a 2000km stretch of eastern Australia, we found our team ‘rhythm’ early on and worked to complement each other in a way which was genuinely enjoyable,” Katie said.

“I’ve worked in remotely connected teams before so had an idea of some of the challenges this can present — but very few of those challenges gave us any grief in this situation. I’m proud to be part of their team and look forward to working with them bringing ReHose to life.”

Darrin and Katie will graduate with their MBA qualifications this year. All three say they can’t wait to see what the new year brings.

“There’s a real opportunity for us to pilot this program as the first in the world,” Darrin said.

“No one else is doing anything like this in regards to this waste.”

Associate Professor Schleimer acknowledged the efforts of the team’s industry coach, Adjunct Associate Professor James Brockhurst.

“James volunteered again this year to work with the team throughout the challenge, providing valuable industry knowledge and insider insights.

The team was also recently recognised as a Commended Finalist in the Global Business Challenge.

The Global Business Challenge is conducted as a partnership between Griffith University, QUT and the University of Queensland with the support of government and industry.