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Growing Sustainable NSW Businesses with STEM


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

To celebrate National Science Week in 2021, the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer is presenting a series of short films showcasing 11 NSW enterprises which have invested their time and shared their experiences to inspire and encourage the next generation of innovators.

Growing Sustainable Businesses with STEM is a project developed as a partnership between the NSW Department of Education’s STEM Industry School Partnership (SISP) Program with funding from the Regional Industry Education Partnerships (RIEP) Program.

Filmmaker Jill McCall from Piece Together Productions was commissioned to produce these 35 short films, which look at the visionary work of people committed to making a difference with their business.

SISP is delighted to partner with Inspiring Australia NSW and Investment NSW to launch this initiative as part of National Science Week 2021.

Since the late 1980s, filmmaker Jill McCall has been aware that the planet’s resources were being consumed at an unsustainable rate. After a couple of decades focused on parenting, in 2019 she found more time to look in detail at recent reports and data about climate change, soil degradation, deforestation, ocean acidification, water security and declining biodiversity.

“For several months I was paralysed by fear,” said Jill. “How would the next generation, including my own children, clean up the environmental damage done during my lifetime? Could disaster be averted?”

A turning point for Jill came after watching Damon Gameau’s documentary 2040. “I began discovering and following the progress of people working on extraordinary innovations and felt compelled to share these stories.”

Around the same time, Jill was working on an NSW Department of Education program designed to increase the aspirations, interest and participation of students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). “Surely the most effective way to inspire students to study STEM, would be to tell them stories about how STEM can positively impact the things that really matter to them," said Jill. "I wanted to show students how the application of STEM skills can make a tangible and positive difference in the world.”

In July 2020, Jill established Piece Together Productions and created 35 short films for the NSW secondary school curriculum.

The Growing Sustainable Businesses with STEM series explores innovative solutions that have been developed by 11 businesses in response to their awareness and concern about serious environmental issues.

Jill hopes that the some of the solutions featured in the films will inspire the next generation of innovators to see the role and potential of STEM to shape a regenerative future:

  • Macadamia farmer Rex Harris shares his journey transitioning from conventional monoculture to polyculture using regenerative agricultural practices such as cover cropping to increase the soil biology, build soil carbon and increase the water-holding capacity on farm.
  • Mineral Carbonation International explain their world-first carbon capture & utilisation process that can transform CO emissions from industrial sources into solid materials that can be used to manufacture cements, mortars, plasterboards, binders and emerging carbon-engineering products.
  • Sydney-based coffee roaster and wholesaler Pablo & Rusty’s discuss how they prioritise sustainability by applying a rigorous scientific approach to every level of their operation, utilising the latest technology to maximise efficiencies and minimise impact at farm, factory and café levels.

“Students need positive role models, and they need a sense of agency. There are so many people doing amazing work,” said Jill. “I’m passionate about supporting young people to develop the aspiration, skills, abilities and resilience required to contend with the social and environmental challenges we are facing locally, nationally and globally.”

Growing Sustainable Businesses with STEM Film Series