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Peter Wren-Hilton

NZ Agritech is officially recognised by globally connected venture capital

On Friday, I signed a Partnership Agreement with Farm2050, a collective of major global venture firms and agribusinesses dedicated to supporting innovation in Agtech.

New Zealand has become Farm2050’s first ‘Country Partner’.

The Agreement was signed on the final day of this year’s Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program. I was joined at the signing by the NZ Ambassador to the US, Tim Groser & NZTech CEO, Graeme Muller. The co-signatories from Farm2050 were Arama Kukutai of Finistere Ventures & Dror Berman of Innovation Endeavors.

This is a big deal for New Zealand’s agritech sector. The Farm2050 initiative was established at the back-end of 2014 by Google Chair, Eric Schmidt, and his investment vehicle, Innovation Endeavors. It provides emerging and established New Zealand agritech businesses with the opportunity to engage with major global agribusinesses such as Bayer Crop Science, Corteva Agriscience, Mars & PepsiCo on significant new innovation-driven initiatives. These activities will increase the visibility of emerging New Zealand agritech businesses seeking capital to scale to Farm2050’s venture partners who include Finistere Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, Syngenta Ventures, Fall Line Capital, S2G Ventures & Rabobank.

Agritech New Zealand has been tasked to drive the Partnership. In discussions with Farm2050 partners over the past few months, we have identified a number of areas of potential significant value to our agritech sector. I have made a commitment that New Zealand will not only meet the Farm2050 collective’s initial expectations: It is my intention that we smash them.

The significance of the Farm2050 Country Partnership was enhanced by the signing of the Western Growers Strategic Partnership Agreement on Wednesday. This provides emerging New Zealand agritech businesses with access to not only the Western Growers Technology & Innovation Center in Salinas, but also to farmer and grower members across the States.

Whilst these two Agreements are not directly connected, their outcomes are. They provide New Zealand agritech businesses looking to enter the vast US market with;

  • Access to globally connected capital through the visibility generated by the Farm2050 collective
  • Access to a ‘landing pad’ at the Western Growers facility in Salinas
  • Access to farms, ranches & orchards across the States
  • Access to major potential agribusiness partners to trial or license our tech

What then next?

I fly back to New Zealand tonight and our Executive Council will begin to immediately socialise the opportunity within the wider New Zealand agritech community.

We are setting up a nationwide roadshow in the Spring where we will explain the opportunity and its potential outcomes for the sector. Details of the roadshow will appear on this website in the next few days.

In summary: I cannot remember a time when there has been such an opportunity for New Zealand’s agritech sector to scale in the global market. It’s an opportunity that I personally intend to drive home.

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.