Peter Wren-Hilton

New Zealand & Australian agritech collaboration is one significant step closer

A couple of weeks ago, John Harvey, Managing Director of AgriFutures Australia, spent a week in New Zealand. The visit was designed to provide John with a better insight into New Zealand’s rapidly evolving agritech ecosystem.

I had the pleasure of spending 36 hours with John as we visited agritech companies in the Bay of Plenty & the Waikato. It was not AgriFutures first visit to NZ. That had happened in May when the organisation attended both the ’10 billion mouths’ conference in Tauranga and the formal launch dinner for Agritech New Zealand.

The opportunity for increasing collaboration with Australia’s agritech community has been on my radar for some time. When I am in London, San Francisco (tomorrow) or New York, New Zealand & Australia tend to get bundled together. It’s time that this was recognised by our respective governments. Similar sized economies in other parts of the world have understood the value of regional collaboration for years.

As an example, on Thursday I am meeting the founder of Silicon Vikings, the collaborative network that has brought the Scandinavian nations together to create much more significant, collective impact in Silicon Valley. If New Zealand & Australia’s agritech sectors want to generate that same regional dynamic, then greater collaboration is a key metric going forward.

Yesterday, I took my first step on this journey. Following John’s visit to New Zealand, AgriFutures invited me to join the Steering Committee for their major agritech conference in 2019: evokeAG. It takes place on 19-20 February in Melbourne.

On yesterday’s conference call, we were joined by the other Steering Committee members: Agthentic, AgFunder, Austrade, CSIRO, KPMG & Sprout X. We discussed some of the logistics around the conference and how New Zealand’s agritech community could be fully engaged. This opportunity is real. Whilst evokeAG was primarily established to promote the Australian agritech and foodtech sectors, its success depends very much on how it can be positioned as a regional story. This in my view adds significant value to its purpose. It is critical to attract targeted international delegations from Europe, North America, LATAM & Asia. It’s also hugely important for the region’s wider agritech ecosystem as it seeks to scale and generate more visibility on the global stage.

Opportunities for New Zealand’s agritech sector include:

  • Showcasing the latest research and development across agriculture and food coming from Australia & New Zealand
  • Start-up Alley – to showcase New Zealand start-up and early stage businesses to an international audience
  • Providing a platform and stage for a number of kiwi thought leaders in the agribusiness space to share their knowledge
  • Creating new opportunities for New Zealand agritech businesses to better understand and be better prepared for entry into the Australian market
  • Attracting emerging agritech and food tech solutions for deployment into Australia & New Zealand

Tomorrow, I fly out to San Francisco. Reaching out to the global agritech ecosystem is a demonstration of the maturity and place in which New Zealand’s own agritech sector now occupies. I’m reminded of the ’10 billion mouths’ conference theme: ‘New Zealand’s agritech sector is #GoodForTheWorld‘.

Nowhere is that truer, nor more needed, than now.

Peter Wren-Hilton Peter is Executive Director of Agritech New Zealand and founder of Wharf42 in Tauranga. Peter helps organise major agritech conferences in New Zealand and offshore and connects early stage New Zealand agritech companies with international markets.