A student company founded by teenage surfers who wanted to find a better way of waxing their boards has scooped the top prize in this year's Northland Young Enterprise Scheme.
The overall award for best student company went to Dr Gripper, of Kerikeri's Springbank School, for a new product designed to make applying surfboard wax easier.
The company's five directors - Jamie Plowman, Titouan Lamouric, Cheyanne Donnelly, Mathew Carr and Chance August - are aged just 14-16.
The YES programme sees high school students across the country set up a company, create a product or service, and make a real-life profit or loss.
The Springbank students came up with the idea for Dr Gripper, patches of self-adhesive wax, after brainstorming about the problems they faced as surfers and possible solutions. They have been granted an international patent and have had talks with adhesives company 3M.
Dr Gripper also picked up awards for communication and technology at the awards night in Waitangi on Wednesday, while chief executive Chance August, of Kaikohe, was one of only five students in the country to reach the finals of the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants Managing Director of the Year Award.
Chance and the rest of the team head to Wellington for the YES National Awards on December 4.
YES Northland coordinator Gary Larkan said the standard of entries this year was extremely high.
His goal was to see at least one company each year turn into a significant business. That was a real possibility for Dr Gripper, which had even senior executives at 3M excited.
"They've patented it, they've done all the right things, and there's nothing else like it on the marketplace. It's definitely got legs, as long as they keep running with it.''
During Wednesday night's ceremony lines company Top Energy confirmed its ongoing support for the YES programme in Northland, in partnership with the Lion Foundation.
Chief executive Russell Shaw said the company backed the programme because it was not just another academic course but offered young people hands-on learning.
"It's a powerful learning experience which gives them real and valuable insights into how business and commerce work,'' he said.
"The students who took part this year have demonstrated innovation and flair with their ventures, and coped well with the everyday challenges of running a business. I've been hugely impressed by the determination and commitment many have shown in driving their business plans
This year was Top Energy's fourth as YES Northland sponsor.
All but two of the awards went to Far North schools, with the Bay of Islands making a clean sweep of the Company of the Year category.
* Top Energy Award for Northland YES Company of the Year: Dr Gripper, Springbank School. Second: Inovatus, Kerikeri High School (carry handle for shopping bags); third: Today I Am, Kerikeri High School (vegan hair dye).
* NorthTec Award for Excellence in Business Management: Keep it Kool, Whangarei Girls' High School (stain removal kit).
* Northern Advocate Award for Excellence in Communication: Dr Gripper, Springbank School.
* Gilmore Brown Award for Excellence in Financial Management: Inovatus, Kerikeri High School.
* NorthPower Award for Excellence in Technology: Dr Gripper, Springbank School.
* Dave Templeton Award for Commitment: Silver Lining Enterprises, Bream Bay College (Smarty Pants exam study pack).
* Manaaki Solutions Award for Best Maori YES Company: Today I Am (Kerikeri High School).