Peter Wren-Hilton

A letter from Dublin

I am inspired, energised and if I am honest, a little bit knackered.

I am spending three days meeting up with some great Irish agritech innovators, investors & ecosystem players. The week culminates in my attending and participating in the AgTech Nexus Europe conference which is being held at Dublin’s Conference Centre on Friday.

It’s a long way to travel from Tauranga. 3 flights. 32 hours. Each way.

So you might ask why?

The answer is pretty straightforward. The opportunity for increased collaboration between New Zealand and Ireland’s agritech sectors is huge. Both countries have similar pastoral farming systems; both countries produce premium agricultural product and both countries are committed to building more sustainable farming practices – for both the environment and the farmer.

There’s one thing however that we don’t share and that’s the greatest value add. We operate in two very different hemispheres. This offers agritech companies with the opportunity to conduct R&D, as well as product and in-market validation during not one, but two growing seasons. That’s massive.

Let’s say you are a Waikato-based early stage dairy tech business developing a solution for calving. Right now, active application would take place during the New Zealand winter season. There then comes that long break until the next calving season begins. Imagine however if you could be part of a structured and well-supported landing pad in Ireland and could continue that R&D and product validation work during the northern hemisphere calving season. In a world where speed to market counts for so much, this could significantly accelerate the opportunity. This explains why I am in Ireland exploring ways to establish a more formal bridge between Agritech New Zealand and our Irish counterparts.

The good news is that Ireland’s agri sector is listening and is ready to engage. Last night, I spoke at a private dinner function to several of Ireland’s leading agritech ecosystem partners, including the Irish Sovereign Fund. I am giving similar presentations, in different settings, over the next 36 hours to other key Irish players. There’s a purpose.

In September next year, working closely with Callaghan Innovation, we intend to invite a large delegation of New Zealand agritech companies to attend the 2019 Irish Ploughing Championships. Think National Fieldays. On steroids. Over 100,000 visitors each day for three days.

By then, I want to have that bridge built. I want New Zealand agritech companies to be able to leverage the opportunity that a dual hemisphere strategy can offer.

Next week, I will publish a more detailed account of how my meetings have gone and where to from here. These are exciting times for both New Zealand and Ireland’s respective agtitech communities.

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.