Patrick Roskam has always had a fascination for how things work and, as it happens, things that don’t work have literally helped shape a pretty exciting future for the self-confessed problem solver.

His mad scientist persona reared its head for the first time several years ago when, as a year 7 student at Matamata Intermediate School, the annual Science Fair combined with his dad’s frustration hanging farm gates inspired his first business opportunity. “I invented the Gudgeon Pro 5 in 1” says Patrick, “which is basically a tool to drill straight and accurate gudgeon holes. I won the Science Fair and later, the 2014 Fieldays Young Innovator of the Year. Since having it patented, it is now available for purchase online and is in use on farms around the country.”

Fast forward a few years, the now year 13 student at Matamata College recently had another wave of inspiration when his mum complained of messy drawers in her lovely new kitchen! With a collection of Tupperware spice containers, Patrick decided an interlocking storage rack might be just the thing for her and began planning prototypes which he printed out on a 3D printer. As it happened, the Lion Foundation Youth Enterprise Scheme (YES) was encouraging young people into business innovation so he decided to enter the Spice Mate – along with 65 other teams within the Waikato/King Country region that had also created products. “After various tasks were marked by reginal coordinators, we had to present a Dragon’s Den style pitch showcasing our product to potential investors” says Patrick, “and submit a 10 page annual review outlining our business plan.”

After he was notified that he had been selected as one of six finalists, Patrick was invited to the regional awards evening where incredibly, he won the Innovation Award for the Waikato, Excellence in Financial Management – with the highest marks by CAANZ (Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand), and first overall for his region. “I was the only sole trader finalist” says Patrick, “so it was all pretty overwhelming, and I was incredibly happy to have got this far with what I saw as such a simple idea. I’m now incredibly excited to be attending the national finals in Wellington next month.”

Heading to Waikato University next year to study mechanical engineering, Patrick’s entrepreneurial skills with both the Gudgeon Pro 5 in 1 and Spice Mate, will compliment an already successful start to study. APL Engineering, where he is employed during school holidays, has awarded him a scholarship worth $9,000, and he successfully applied for the Waikato University Te Paewhai o te Rangi scholarship for community service and leadership. With his commitment to VYA, Interact and Matamata College Wellness Committee leadership, Patrick was awarded the $25,000 scholarship which will be spread over his three years of study. So now, with five subjects and 14 papers, all he needs is to pass his NCEA level three’s with excellence and its money in the bank! Given his final exam is scheduled for November 30 and the YES National finals are to be held in Wellington on December 6 – there’s no pressure…. Right… We wish Patrick all the luck in the world and can’t wait to catch up for an update!

Caron Stewart, The scene

Caption: Wintec’s Anne Morrison presents the Wintec Company of the Year Award to Patrick Roskam. If you would like to register interest in Spice Mate, head to myspicemate.co.nz