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Eyes on the green leaders prize

VALO’s Aaron Hickmann hopes a sustainability-focused award in this year’s 40 Under 40 Awards will inspire a greener future for South Australia.

Apr 26, 2023, updated Apr 26, 2023

Sustainability is important to VALO founder and CEO Aaron Hickmann, who is not only a 40 Under 40 alumnus but also has just finished judging the InDaily 40 Under 40 Awards that recognise South Australia’s young leaders.

His advanced technology company runs its manufacturing facility wholly on solar energy. The LED lights it produces use up to 80 per cent less energy to run and last 25 times longer than other lights. The company’s car fleet is all electric.

InDaily 40 Under 40 judge and VALO CEO Aaron Hickmann

He is hoping when this year’s Sustainable Business Leaders Award is presented it will help to drive a step change in how local businesses operate.

“Sustainability is increasingly recognised as a key business imperative, but it requires commitment and energy, but most importantly innovation,” Hickmann said.

“The recognition of achievements and leadership in sustainability through the Award will hopefully inspire other businesses and help to inspire future leaders to adapt to sustainable approaches in SA.”

Hickmann said he believes government, through its policy framework, plays a key role in encouraging and supporting sustainable technologies.

He said that by working collectively, sharing knowledge and building capacity, businesses could amplify their individual impact on sustainability issues.

“The collaboration between businesses, and business and government, helps create an ecosystem where innovation can thrive and opens up new investment opportunities,” he said.

The Sustainable Business Leaders Award recognises a person who has created visionary technologies that can sustainably enhance human experience and capabilities.

It was first presented in 2022; the winner was Matthew Pearson of Fleet Space Technologies and Alauda Aeronautics. Fleet Space creates low-cost, satellite-based systems for IIoT applications.

Hickmann noted that in furthering sustainable technologies there is “a fine balance” between holding onto IP and providing unrestricted access to new technologies.

“Businesses need to be able to commercialise their IP, if not, it stifles investment,” he said.

“However, new knowledge is developed from the knowledge of others and ‘democratising’ some technologies can create whole new industries.”

He also provided advice from his own experience in developing sustainable technologies.

“Don’t be afraid to take risks and create a business culture that supports innovation and risk taking,” he said.

“People need the freedom to sometimes fail and learn to drive innovation and create new and better technologies.

“Also, learn from others. I’ve found it personally beneficial to talk to and learn from business leaders around the world about developing new technologies and solving business problems.”

Winners of this year’s InDaily 40 Under 40 Awards will be announced at a gala night on June 8 at the Adelaide Oval, when twelve of the forty alumni will take home category awards.

Winners will also be featured the print edition of CityMag in June.

Tickets for the gala night go on sale Tuesday, May 2.

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