Six local businesses have pitched their ideas to a panel of judges on Thursday, with a share of $30,000 up for grabs for the winners of the Bega Circular Valley Challenge.
Each business had one thing in common - "circularity", a concept becoming more widely accepted as commonplace across the Bega Valley in recent years.
A circular economy is all about reusing and recycling resources, using intelligent design principles to make businesses work more efficiently and disposing of waste in a more resourceful way.
With just three minutes each and one question per pitch by the judging panel, the stakes were high and the atmosphere was tense for the six finalists.
Three awards were given - best overall circular idea, best circular social enterprise (as decided by the judges), and the people's choice (as voted by those in the audience).
However, the six finalists all received $3000 for making it to the final pitch.
The proceedings were opened by Aunty Glennda Dixon, who provided a welcome to country and reminded all of those in attendance how lucky we were to live in the beautiful lands of the Bega Valley.
Executive chairman of Bega Cheese and member of the judging panel, Barry Irvin AM then provided some background on his vision for Bega, with the goal of turning the entire valley "circular".
"In order for us to live in a sustainable community, it's about economic, social and environmental change," Mr Irvin said.
ABC's Paul West was master of ceremonies, and spoke on the circularity in food and the concept of waste.
"In the realm of nature there's no such thing as waste, it's our concept," Mr West said.
UOW Bega campus manager Sam Avitaia then explained the format, introduced the judges and the stage was set for the six businesses.
Finalists were asked how they'd scale, market, maintain supply and above all circularity by judges, with the tough job on their hands of picking the winners after hearing the pitches.
The Wool Shed is a reimagined shearing shed, hosting intimate farm-to-table events on a charming working farm. Our philosophy is a simple one; celebrate the seasons, and our local region while treading lightly using sustainable and regenerative farming practices.
Read more about the woolshed and our chat with Sahra here - New Far South Coast dining experience offers true 'paddock to plate' ethos
Creators of Community Ownership is a not-for-profit social enterprise that owns and operates vital services for the benefits of the Bega Valley.
"We've got meetings with state politicians next week and we're looking at changing the models of health care. If we can create a community owned medical centre here in the Valley, we can trial it and make the Bega Valley the first to do it," Ms Merrick said.
Enabling the establishment and success of private, sustainable forestry projects on rural land and working with complementary local businesses to provide sustainably sourced high value timber and food products whilst providing net ecosystem benefits.
Where forestry meets ecology- Scott Herring
Currently working fulltime in forestry, the prize money will allow Mr Herring to take his dream full time in June.
"I plant trees for fun so it's not work for me," Mr Herring said.
Other finalists included Bush Kin, SeaChange, and Bee & Berry each taking home $3000 for making the finals.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.