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Peter Wren-Hilton

The NZ agritech mission arrives in Melbourne

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Over 60 Kiwi agriculture innovators and leaders are now in Melbourne to showcase their technologies at the high-profile evokeAG event, create export and partnership opportunities, and build on New Zealand’s reputation as a leading agricultural innovator.

evokeAG is a two-day international event all about innovation in agriculture, drawing delegates from the entire agriculture ecosystem from across the Asia Pacific region and internationally. The mission is led by Callaghan Innovation in partnership with NZTE, Agritech New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Simon Yarrow, Callaghan Innovation’s Agritech Group Manager, says New Zealand’s startup ecosystem for ‘agritech and new food’ has been ranked in the top 10 globally and there is an opportunity for our agritech to become a multi-billion-dollar sector by 2025 (currently $1.4 billion).

“We’ve got a strong mix of Kiwi startups, larger firms, research institutes, investors, commercialisation experts, and ecosystem connectors joining our mission this year,” says Mr Yarrow. ‘That’s a reflection of New Zealand’s agritech ecosystem being more advanced than most, though still young’. 

“We’re seeing real potential for global success in robotics and automation, cloud-based platforms to manage day-to-day tasks, environmentally friendly pesticides and fertilisers, and visual artificial intelligence for animal health.

“But what we don’t have is access to the same level of investment and global channels to market. It’s why our innovators need to go the extra mile to build these global partnerships.”

As well as showcasing their products and services to international agritech leaders, members will be validating their products and strategies in the Australian market, while meeting investors and checking out research institutes and farming operations in the Mildura region.

For as long as there has been farmers,  New Zealand has had the ability to turn local agritech Dsolutions into global success stories,” says Vanessa O’Neill, Trade Commissioner. “That means accelerating the growth of agritech innovations from NZ start-ups into scalable, investable and global companies.

“Global partnerships are second nature in New Zealand business. As Australia is New Zealand’s largest two-way trading partner it makes sense to look for opportunities to work together and take our agritech advantages to the rest of the world. ​Proven agritech innovations from New Zealand, boosted by Australian resources and networks, are a winning combination in global markets.” says O’Neill.

New Zealand speakers include Mitali Purohit (Callaghan Innovation), David Downs (NZTE), Darryn Keiller (Autogrow), Steve Saunders (Robotics Plus) and Dean Tilyard (The Factory).

Organisations joining the 2020 evokeAG mission include:

Agritech innovators

AgriSmart: cloud-based digital agritech company specialising in timesheet & payroll software for Horticulture and Viticulture.

Allied Farmers: NZX listed with a range of agricultural solutions for farmers including the MyLivestock livestock stock trading mobile app and trading platform.

Autogrow Systems: Controlled Environment Agriculture with automation solutions supporting growers in over 40 countries producing more than 100 different crop types.

BumperCrop: precision insights for covered crop farms using automated wireless sensors, intuitive labour management tools and a data management platform.

Cucumber Ltd: sources technology for business challenges, delivering digital solutions for improved insight, decision-making and operational efficiency.

Ecolibrium Biologicals: builds transitional technology for biopesticide pest control, allowing growers to achieve the same outcome as synthetic ag-chem.

Ecrotek: innovative solutions helping beekeepers of all sizes run sustainable, efficient and profitable operations.

Eko360: technology controlling nutrient release and fertilisers for food crops to optimise plant growth, reducing impact on soils, the atmosphere and waterways.

GPS-it: better farming decisions and navigation using the latest aerial mapping technology to produce the most accurate maps available.

Halo Systems (TagIT Technologies): a cloud-based monitoring, controlling and dashboard platform allowing inputs from other company’s technologies.

Instep (a division of Asian Scientific Technologies Ltd): provides a suite of carbon and sustainability programmes to a wide range of Australasian and international businesses.

Iris Data Science: artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists for the agricultural, horticultural and other sectors. Developed sheep facial recognition software. 

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC): farmer-owned co-operative providing dairy genetics, information technology, herd testing and DNA parentage verification services.

Marama Labs: the business and its flagship product, the CloudSpec, gives winemakers unprecedented access to flavour and colour data of their wines.

Mastaplex: veterinary point-of-care diagnostic tests for bovine mastitis treatment. Mastatest provides dairy farmers and vets an easy, precise and fast mastitis diagnostic.

NuPoint: system providing real time asset and people tracking which is used to provide accurate traceability and proof of placement.

Page Bloomer Associates Ltd: supports sustainable food and fibre production by connecting the primary sector with science and technology providers. 

PICMI: technology making hiring seasonal staff easier with technology streamlining the employment process delivering prepared, compliant workers ready to start work. 

Radius Robotics: automating most tasks associated with arable crop production. Its robotic polyculture farming system with machine learning reduces soil depletion.

Rezare Systems: helps agribusinesses embrace digital technology, streamline their operations and get closer to farmers and customers.

Robotics Plus: develops and commercialises mechanisation, automation, machine vision, robotic and sensor technologies to address global challenges.

Sparrows: connects growers, distributors and freight forwarders on one platform to enable tracking and monitoring of freight, reducing stock loss and food wastage.

Trust Codes: traceability cloud-based platform helping food and beverage businesses combat product fraud, engage with consumers and comply with regulations.

Zespri: global horticulture marketing company interested in innovations around crop prediction and addressing labour shortages on the orchard and in the supply chain.

Webtools: delivers innovative solutions through a suite of SaaS products and custom development, using cloud-based systems, native applications and IOT.

Agritech researchers

AgResearch: improving pastoral agriculture practices and outcomes with science

Auckland UniServices: helps commercialise intelligent ideas largely out of the University of Auckland, through partnerships with business the primary sector.

Lincoln Agritech: combines leading-edge science and engineering to deliver real solutions for the environment, agriculture (food and fibre) and associated industries. 

PlantTech: using cutting-edge artificial intelligence solutions to address scientific challenges in New Zealand’s horticulture industry.

Plant & Food Research: using world-leading science to improve the way its partners grow, fish, harvest and share food – healthy foods with sustainable production systems.

University of Waikato: Robotics and Sensing group develops smart machines, robots and visual sensors for horticulture and agriculture including harvesting and grading.

Agritech investment and support

Agritech New Zealand: a membership-based organisation advancing agritech through advocacy, collaboration, innovation, and missions to global markets.

Callaghan Innovation: NZ’s innovation agency helping big and small frontier firms get ahead with tech, science and commercialisation skills, co-funding, connections and advice.

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research: a NZ crown research institute working with primary industry to develop science, research and technology solutions for commercial realities.

Ministry for Primary Industries: the NZ Government’s primary sector champion enabling, improving productivity and sustainability, and ensuring safe food production.  

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment: NZ Government department developing and delivering policy, services, advice and regulation to support business.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise: the NZ Government’s international business development agency, a key partner in supporting our exporters to succeed

NZ National Fieldays Society Inc.: Southern Hemisphere’s largest agricultural event in Hamilton, NZ. A key launch platform for cutting edge technology and innovation.

Sprout: incubator/accelerator for bold agritech businesses and entrepreneurs who move fast, think big, with solutions that reach from farm to fork.

The Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust: an independent charitable trust making targeted investments in agricultural, horticultural and forestry.

WNT Ventures: incubator empowering early-stage frontier tech firms in commercialising deep-tech solutions and ideas, often in agriculture and horticulture.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Callaghan Innovation: Melanie Tuala, + 64 27 609 4502

NZTE: Mitchell Blincoe, + 61 427 801 843

Agritech New Zealand: Peter Wren-Hilton, + 64 21 791 120

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.