St John Bosco College Engadine students won first prize in The Orbispace Initiative’s 2023 Pitch For the Planet competition and wowed real-life investors with a product to reduce methane emissions from dairy cows by up to 90 per cent.

Team of five, Synetic, designed a soluble animal supplement as part of the 20-week STEM and entrepreneurship program, which asked students to pitch a sustainable solution to help the Australian dairy industry to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by one third by 2030.

The students pitched their ideas to judges and investors at Sydney’s Startup Hub on 15 September. Synetic were awarded a $1,000 cash prize and visits to NSW Parliament and the University of NSW Digital Grid Futures Institute.

“The average cow produces 375 litres of methane every single day” – Kitty Wakim

Project judges included Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty and Associate Director at RPS Engineering Meg Panozzo.

St John Bosco College TAS Teacher, Nita Panagio, said the students showed great maturity and design thinking skills throughout the challenge. She was extremely proud to see both teams of students from the college who participated in Orbispace this year in the competition final.

“The environment was authentic and students learnt so much beyond the classroom,” Mrs Panagio said.

Sustainable focus

“The average cow produces 375 litres of methane every single day,” said Synetic team member Kitty Wakim.

“The solutions that have been produced are too expensive for farmers to afford annually. The products farmers are exposed to commonly share an ingredient that is unfit for human consumption.”

The team’s response to the challenge aimed to improve the quality of milk while using natural ingredients that would circle back to the environment. Their soluble pod design utilised a natural alternative to polyvinyl alcohol film which does not produce microplastics.

Other Sydney Catholic schools that took part in the 2023 Orbispace program were:

  • St Vincent’s Catholic College, Ashfield
  • St John Bosco College, Engadine
  • Good Samaritan Catholic College, Hinchinbrook 
  • Our Lady of The Sacred Heart College, Kensington
  • St Ursula’s College, Kingsgrove 
  • Mount St Joseph Catholic College, Milperra
  • St Clare’s College, Waverley

About Orbispace

The Orbispace Initiative (TOI) is an Australian charity which develops students’ entrepreneurial skills through startup and STEM industry professional mentorship to empower the next generation of Australian female innovators.

“Women represent only 27 per cent of roles in Australian STEM-qualified occupations, and hold only 8 per cent of CEO or head of business roles,” said Orbispace’s program director Maria Millward.

“We need to change these statistics because girls and women have the talent and creativity to solve the complex problems our planet faces.”