STEM Industry School Partnerships

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Growing sustainable businesses with STEM

About the Project

What does it take to run a business successfully while addressing serious sustainability issues? How can business owners solve environmental challenges?

In 2020 Piece Together Productions was commissioned to produce 35 short films that tell inspiring stories of people committed to making a difference with their businesses for the STEM Industry School Partnerships (SISP) program. The films were produced with funding support from the Regional Industry Education Partnerships Program (NSW Department of Education).

The films showcase eleven Australian enterprises that have developed innovative solutions to serious environmental challenges. From practitioners in regenerative agriculture to a world-first carbon capture and utilisation technology, each business represents committed individuals that want to make a difference and establish products and services that create a legacy for environmental change. Their solutions will inspire students to see the role and potential of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to shape a positive future.

Special thanks to film maker Jill McCall, from Piece Together Productions.

Please enjoy and share these stories from eleven amazing enterprises who have invested their time and shared their stories to inspire and encourage the next generation of innovators. 

Byron Solar Train is the World’s First Solar Train

The two-carriage heritage rail set was built in 1949 at the Chullora Railway Workshops in Sydney. To convert the train to solar, one of the two diesel engines was upgraded to use as a backup for emergencies. The other was replaced with an electric motor. Cutting edge light weight, flexible curved solar panels were installed on the roof of the train along with panels on the platform to provide energy for the 77KWH battery storage system that charges the electric motor. A regenerative braking system adds further charging capacity.

The 70-tonne train can carry 100 passengers from the station at North Beach in the Byron Arts and Industrial Estate, to Byron Bay’s town centre. Best of all, the train is net carbon positive. 73 percent of the energy generated is fed into the grid. The train exports enough electricity to power 12 three-bedroom houses. The collaborators on the project are now working with the Indian, Argentinian and Italian governments to support the development of solar train networks in those countries.

Fully Charged

The World's First Solar Train

The Plastic Collective

In 2016, Plastic Collective Founder and CEO Louise Hardman developed a mobile plastic recycling machine that could be operated in remote communities with no recycling infrastructure. The Shruder shreds and extrudes plastic on site. Louise and her team provide education about reducing, collecting, sorting and transforming plastic into useful resources that generate revenue through an ethical marketplace.

Plastic Collective are working to change the economics of plastic recovery and beneficial reuse. They are developing software to track the origin of plastic through the supply chain and promoting ethical provenance. Plastic Collective’s latest initiative is a Plastic Offset Program providing opportunities for corporations, businesses and individuals to become plastic neutral or plastic positive. The Shruder and PC Educational Programs are now funded through plastic offsets. Louise leads the international Plastic Collective team of 15 from her home near Coffs Harbour.

Applying STEM to Create Value from Waste

Empower, Innovate, Create

Emerging Careers, Environmental & Social Sustainability, and Innovation

The Circular Economy Closing the Loop on Plastic Waste

Mineral Carbonation International

Mineral Carbonation International has developed a process to transform CO₂ emissions from industrial sources into solid materials that can be used to manufacture cements, mortars, plasterboards, binders, and emerging carbon engineering products. This carbon engineering technology platform provides a decarbonisation solution that is not reliant upon carbon pricing, offsets or subsidies and locks away CO₂ safely and permanently. In 2019, following a successful seven-year program of research funded by Australian Governments and industry partners, MCi began trials to commercialise the process at a pilot plant in Newcastle. MCi are developing cutting edge Australian technology with astounding potential. 

Applying Techno Economic Models to Scale CO₂ Storage, Abatement and Utilisation Technology

Climate Change Solutions Based on Circular Economics

Australian World First CO₂ Transformation Technology

Emerging Careers in a Low Carbon Economy

Flow Hive

For 10 years, father and son Stu and Cedar Anderson tinkered away in their shed on the Far North Coast, looking for a way to harvest honey that was less stressful on the bees – and the beekeeper. They invented and tested many hive prototypes, then with patents in place in February 2015, Flow Hive launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and surpassed their $70,000 goal in just seven minutes. Flow Hive broke several crowdfunding records raising more than US$12.3 million in start-up funds.

There are now 75,000 Flow Hives in more than 130 countries. Flow have won multiple awards for innovation, design, marketing and business including Good Design Australia, D&AD White Pencil, Fast Company World Changing Ideas, two medals at Apimondia International Beekeeping Congress and was declared NSW Business Chamber’s Business of the Year (2017). Flow’s other product the Pollinator House, is like an apartment block for pollinating insects that anyone can place outside of their home. 100% of the profits from the sale of this product are donated to projects that are helping these small environmental champions. Flow is a B Corp certified company.

A Design and Engineering Journey

Prioritising Sustainability in Business

Pollination, Biodiversity, Food Security

The Backyard Inventor

Pablo & Rusty's Coffee Roasters

Sydney-based coffee roaster and wholesaler Pablo & Rusty’s prioritise sustainability and good stewardship to ensure their industry has a long and bright future. The team are working on solutions to minimise environmental impact at farm, factory and café level. Pablo and Rusty’s have moved beyond sustainability as a buzzword by achieving both B Corp and Carbon Neutral Certification. At Pablo and Rusty’s innovation is encouraged and supported. The team apply a rigorous scientific approach to every level of their operation utilising the latest technology, software and equipment to maximise efficiencies and minimise impact.

Shaping a Sustainably Driven Business

Technology Enabled Innovation

Sustainability A Future Proof Business Model

The Science of Coffee

Enova Community Energy

Based in Byron Bay, Enova Energy is Australia’s first community-owned & renewable focused energy supplier. Enova's retail arm supports their social enterprise, Enova Community to invest in funds and work collaboratively on innovative projects inside Australia’s complex and highly regulated energy system. Enova is supporting a microgrid research project, solar gardens, and developing shared community battery storage systems with peer to peer trading capacity. As an energy retailer, Enova is on a journey to supply power to customers from 100% renewable energy sources; preferably community-owned and without leaving anyone behind.

Solar Gardens Innovation Models for an Equitable Transition to Renewables

Australia’s First Community Owned and Renewable Focused Energy Supplier

Community Batteries and Peer to Peer Electricity Trading Platforms

 Careers in Renewable and Clean Energy Technology

Microgrid Research Project

The Living Classroom

With the support of Gwydir Shire Council, 150 hectares of degraded town common located on the outskirts of Bingara NSW is being regenerated into a training site for Primary Industries, a showcase of regenerative agriculture and a tourist destination focused on world food. The Living Classroom has regular visitors using the site and its facilities as a field study centre. The adjacent TCF (The Carbon Farm), is a community project focused on exploring ways and means to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere back into our soils. It works in collaboration with 22 farmers from Central NSW to South East Queensland to showcase on a small scale what the collaborators are doing on a large scale to sequester carbon.

Carbon Farming, A Climate Change Solution

From Degraded Town Common to Centre for Regenerative Agriculture

STEM and Regenerative Agriculture


Huskee has developed a sustainable solution to three of the key challenges facing the coffee industry. HuskeeCup is a biopolymer cup, saucer and lid system manufactured from the industry’s agricultural waste, coffee husk. Extending the solution, HuskeeSwap allows customers purchasing take away, to hand over their Huskee on arrival and be served their beverage in a commercially cleaned cup on a like for like basis. The HuskeeLoop initiative provides a cradle to grave options for customers to return their cup for recycling once it has reached the end of its life. This is the circular economy in action.

Cup Swap Loop Designing for a Waste Free World

Entrepreneurship Profits and Sustainability in a Circular Economy


Civil and Structural Engineering Consultants ELLUC Projects, recently expanded into Australia from the UK. With bases in Tweed Heads and Sydney, ELLUC will provide career opportunities for up to 70 people over the next 3 years. ELLUC specialise in utilising digital technology, in particular Building Information Modelling (BIM), an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering and construction professionals the insight and tools to maximise efficiency in planning, designing, constructing and managing buildings and infrastructure. Sustainability is at the core of ELLUC BIM systems. The objective is to maximise cost and resource savings.

Careers in Construction and Digital Engineering

Digital Engineering and Building Information Modelling

ENV Solutions

The award-winning team at ENV Solutions consists of 25 expert engineers, scientists and project managers working collaboratively to apply specialised skills in environmental remediation, occupational hygiene, resource recovery, and environmental consulting. The ENV team love being challenged to develop, design, build and deliver solutions.

From their bases in Ballina and Coffs Harbour, they work with clients across NSW and interstate to develop innovative cradle-to-cradle solutions to serious environmental challenges. A shared commitment to a strong environmental philosophy drives the ENV team to shape solutions that will have a positive economic, social and environmental impact.

Careers in Environmental Science and Engineering at ENV Solutions

Fuel Contamination Case Study

From Waste to Resource Recovery and Beneficial Re-Use

Innovative Environmental Engineering

Picadilly Park

In the 1980s, Rex Harris and family purchased a 60-hectare farm on the outskirts of Bangalow. The property was degraded due to erosion from high rainfall, over cultivation and heavy grazing. They invested significantly in fertiliser while planting an orchard of 16,000 macadamia trees. Rex experimented with a range of conventional practices to address erosion and declining soil quality. Picadilly are now half way through a radical seven-year program to transition from conventional monoculture to polyculture using regenerative agricultural practices.

Rex is removing every second row, a total of 8,000 trees, to let in light and make space for interrow multispecies cover crops. The cover crops are creating habitat and food for natural predators and pollinators. Rex is increasing the soil biology and building soil carbon. Importantly, every 1% increase in soil carbon has increased the water holding capacity by 140,000 litres per hectare. Rex is on track to increase the overall yield from his orchard with half the number of trees while regenerating the land and sequestering carbon.

Monoculture to Diverse Polyculture – Regenerative Agriculture on a Macadamia Farm