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High School entrepreneurs exceed limits with innovative NanoSign

Six secondary school students from Nelson College have developed an innovative solution to temporary speed signage, and have been recognised at the Young Enterprise Scheme Awards 2018.

The LimitLess team have created a solution for road maintenance contractors that need to manage speeds through road work sites, to reduce speed-related crashes and improve everyone’s safety when temporary speed limits are required.

Nelson College students

LimitLess is a Nelson College business group made up of six members. Together the team has developed the NanoSign.

Focusing on the problem

Driving through road works requires attention to your surroundings and the advice from construction workers on an appropriate safe speed. Often, the speed limit has to be lowered to keep everyone passing through the area safe and variable speed limits need to be carefully and clearly communicated to all drivers.

A group of six secondary school students from Nelson College saw an opportunity to develop durable and lightweight temporary speed signage for use throughout the country.

LimitLess identified that the current temporary signage solutions are impractical – they include plastic bags tied over speed signage, damaging signs through taping new speed limits, and temporary road signs that are bulky and time consuming to set up and remove.

By focusing on the needs of the construction contractors, LimitLess knew they needed to create something lightweight, compact, easy to use and cost-effective. As for road users who also play a vital role in this challenge, the signage solution needed to be highly visible, located where you would expect to see speed advisories, and meet current sign standards.

The beginning of NanoSign

In response to the challenges identified, LimitLess developed NanoSigns. These are highly durable “sticky” signs utilising nano-technology to ensure extreme hold on a range of surfaces. They can be applied directly onto existing speed signs to show the temporary speed limit and cost in the realm of $100 a pair.

The NZ Transport Agency and road construction contractors were involved with the product development of the NanoSign. This ensured the LimitLess team fully understood the challenges they faced and carefully considered how the signage might be developed and used. “One of the really impressive things I found about these young entrepreneurs was that they had already done their own research and asked for help understanding the Code of Practice for Temporary Traffic Management (CoPTTM) and ensuring that whatever they built, would be up to our standards and regulations,” said Damien Le Breton, Senior Manager, Incubation.

The NanoSign is New Zealand’s first Transport Agency CoPTTM compliant temporary speed sign cover. This is an exciting innovation for contractors as it is a cost effective solution, extremely durable and it takes seconds to apply and remove, saving valuable time for maintenance workers and significantly reducing the weight carried on contractor vehicles.

Testing road signs

Demonstrating how to apply the temporary speed sign cover.

Testing NanoSigns

They also knew they had to test it and so had put one of their signs through a rigorous process which involved submerging it in mud, stretching it (it was so strong, they broke the grip force measurement tool they used to stretch the sign) and running it over several times on gravel.

After all the testing, and almost a year later, that original sign still has the same amount of adhesion and durability as it did when they first made it.

Outcomes

The LimitLess team were in Wellington last week to attend the Young Enterprise Scheme national awards and paid the NZ Transport Agency staff a visit to present their pitch and answer many questions about their product and how they developed it.

Damien Le Breton hosted the boys and invited Transport Agency staff to come hear their journey. “The boys were keen to come in and show us what they developed. They appreciated the support and advice we’ve provided them and they wanted to give something back by sharing their story with us,” Damien said.

Nelson College students presenting NanoSign concept

LimitLess team presenting their pitch to NZ Transport Agency staff.

“The staff that attended were blown away by the innovation and energy shown, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Personally, I think it’s great for us to see a bunch of young students interested in transport outcomes coming up with such a great concept and turning it into a business all before they’ve even finished school.”

NanoSigns are now commercially available, and LimitLess has secured a major New Zealand customer. The Transport Agency is pleased to have been able to provide some seed funding, technical advice on ensuring COPTTM compliance and protecting their intellectual property.

LimitLess has been recognised for their work by winning third place at the 2018 Young Enterprise Scheme Awards. The Awards was the culmination of 10 months of work as the cohort of students had created and run their own businesses right from conception through to production, marketing and sales.

Visit the LimitLess website: https://limitless.mystorbie.com(external link)

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