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Peter Wren-Hilton

The first 5 ‘All of NZ Government’ agritech strategy workshops are over. What’s next?

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Yesterday, the final ‘All of Government’ Agritech Taskforce strategy workshop took place in Tauranga (photo above).

Over the past month, at workshops in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Lincoln and Tauranga, over 300 agritech researchers, entrepreneurs and investors have provided invaluable feedback and insights to David Downs, Arek Wojasz and myself.

The workshops were focused on discussing the Government’s strategy document – ‘Agritech In New Zealand: Towards an Industry Transformation Plan’, released on 2 July by Minister David Parker. You can view it here: https://www.mbie.govt.nz/dmsdocument/5878-growing-innovative-industries-in-new-zealand-agritech-in-new-zealand-towards-an-industry-transformation-plan

We wanted feedback. And we got it. In spades.

The Taskforce was established at the back end of 2018 to bring a number of New Zealand government agencies together – MBIE, MPI, NZTE, Callaghan Innovation, NZVIF & MFAT – to develop a cross-agency agenda to help grow the country’s agritech sector. Agritech New Zealand has been working closely with this taskforce ever since to ensure that its core deliverables are very much sector-led. We are all agreed that industry input is vital to ensure that the government gets it right.

So what’s next?

Over the coming weeks, the feedback and insights delivered at the workshops will be downloaded and distilled into a document that sets out some key actions and initiatives that are the outcome of these workshops.

Government Ministers thankfully are not hanging around. I’m expecting briefing documents to be prepared and presented to Ministers by the end of next month. We are likely to see the first actions and initiatives launched in Q1, 2020. In my experience, this is light speed for the public sector. In my view, this also demonstrates the commitment that government is giving to the growth and scaling of the sector.

This is critical for our domestic primary industry. Agriculture technology is one of the main levers that can help farmers and growers address many of the challenges they are facing today. It’s that impact that drives many of us to do this.

Increasing New Zealand agritech exports is another key aim of the Transformation Plan. This can only be done by scaling our agritech businesses with the right skills, investment and offshore support. These are all areas that Agritech New Zealand has been focused on over the past 12 months. It’s an area in which we are looking to add significant value to the government’s own work in this area.

Finally it’s a process that will keep going. Once the first set of actions and initiatives are ready to kick in, I expect to organise another set of workshops to enable entrepreneurs, researchers and established businesses engage directly in this work.

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in the workshops over the past month. You’ve been totally awesome!

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.