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Peter Wren-Hilton

The United States Study Centre in Sydney today recommended Australia's agritech sector developed mutually-beneficial initiatives with New Zealand.

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The United States Study Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney has today released details of a joint project between researchers at USSC and LinkedIn that has found that Australia’s agricultural technology (agritech) networks are less dense and less connected to the United States than New Zealand’s.  

The following text is taken from this morning’s USSC media release.

‘Using proprietary data from LinkedIn, the research released today uses social network analysis to examine the strength of connections in one of Australia’s emerging high-tech, high-growth industries. Dense networks are an essential component of innovation, and Australia is clearly lagging behind its trans-Tasman neighbour. 

Australia is also failing to leverage its relationship with the United States. New Zealand’s smaller agritech industry has denser connections to the US agritech network than Australia’s. The US agritech market is the largest in the world – estimated to be valued at US$10.2 billion. As it accounts for roughly 65 per cent of global agritech investment, connections with the US are vital and Australian agritech is not taking advantage of the strong cultural and economic ties between the two countries as other sectors have.  

Compared to Australia, New Zealand does more with less. New Zealand’s smaller agritech network is not only more cohesive and interconnected than its Australian counterpart, but its total number of connections to US networks is on par with Australia’s, despite its smaller market size.

The report offers a number of ways that Australia can work to address these shortfalls in what should be a booming future industry. These include implementing mutually-beneficial initiatives with New Zealand to increase foreign venture capital investment in the region generally. 

“Lack of access to funding, customer, supplier or partner networks is one of the often cited barriers facing Australian startups. This research makes an important contribution to understanding the linkages between Australia and the United States in the emerging agritech ecosystem.” said Claire McFarland, Director – Innovation and Entrepreneur Program at USSC’.

You can view the full report at https://www.ussc.edu.au/analysis/isolated-agtech-in-Australia-a-social-network-analysis-of-an-innovative-sector

In September, I joined Australian colleagues for the launch of the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council (www.anzagritech.org) at the ANZLF conference in Auckland. It was no secret that New Zealand’s agritech ecosystem was better developed than Australia’s. Agritech New Zealand is one of the major reasons. By connecting everyone and everything in New Zealand’s agritech ecosystem, we have sought to promote and scale the agritech sector both domestically, but perhaps more importantly, offshore. That has generated visibility in key capital markets in the United States and beyond.

For New Zealand, a poor performing Australia is absolutely not in our best interests. Yep. You read that right. For investors sitting in San Francisco, London or Singapore, they want to see a strongly performing trans-Tasman region. It’s one of the reasons that the ANZ Agritech Council was established back in September. Its mission, which is supported in the recommendations made in today’s USSC report, is to position the region as a strong performing global agritech hub with significant opportunity for inbound venture investment. I strongly endorse this strategy.

Over the next two days, 1,350 delegates in Melbourne attending the evokeAG conference, are going to learn more about the opportunities that the trans-Tasman region offers. It’s been a privilege to sit on the evokeAG steering committee and it continues to be a privilege to work with some awesome Aussies keen to help build that regional hub.

The next 48 hours are going to be truly awesome. To follow the NZ Agritech delegation in Melbourne on Twitter, check out our hashtag @agritech_nz


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.