Taking an environmental problem and turning it into a commercial success has seen Queenstown social enterprise team Wilding & Co awarded with the 'most innovative idea', the first of three $1000 milestone awards from Contact Energy, co-principal partner of Akina Foundation's six-month accelerator programme, Launchpad.

Over the last century wilding pines, native to North America, have taken over much of the South Island. Wilding & Co plays its part by clearing them in the Central Otago region, distilling them into essential oils marketed for their scent, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.

"It's inspiring to see Wilding & Co's plan to implement their idea in a way that will not only help restore the natural beauty of the Central Otago environment through pest eradication, but that will also create new jobs and high-quality products," says Contact's head of communications and sustainability and competition co-judge, Tina Porou.

Sponsored by Contact Energy, Launchpad runs until March 2015. Over the six-month programme, Contact is sponsoring three $1000 milestone awards - the most innovative idea; best community engagement; and most improved enterprise - as well as a $20,000 People's Choice award, voted for by Element readers.

Check out Element's interview with Wilding & Co from earlier this year.
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