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Peter Wren-Hilton

Preparing for the post COVID-19 lockdown. Register for this week’s transformative Agritech NZ Insight webinars.


As New Zealand prepares to leave COVID-19 Levels 4 & 3, kiwi agritech businesses have to look ahead and begin to prepare for a ‘New Normal’.

Last week, Ian Proudfoot, global head of agribusiness, KPMG, provided some insight into what this might look like. Vic Crone, CEO of Callaghan Innovation, spoke about some of the immediate measures that both government and Callaghan in particular were taking to support their agritech customers. On Wednesday, Arama Kukutai, co-founder & managing director of Finistere Ventures, provided an overview of the global agritech investment landscape. Looking ahead, it was not pretty.

This week, we have lined up three new presenters who will talk about significant new opportunities as our sector prepares for the future.

Tomorrow (Tuesday 21), Dennis Donohue, Director of the Western Growers Technology & Innovation Center, will join us from Salinas, Northern California. Back in August 2018, Western Growers signed a Partnership Agreement with Agritech New Zealand with a focus on joint work in the robotics, automation and sensing space for specialty crops. It coincides with work being undertaken today by the government’s Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) taskforce with our horticulture sector. The two are closely related. Dennis will provide insights into some of the massive emerging opportunities in North America that exist for kiwi researchers and agritech companies that operate in this space.  

On Wednesday, Richard Dellabarca, CEO of the New Zealand Capital Growth Partners, (formerly known as the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund), will talk about the investment landscape for emerging and high-growth agritech companies in New Zealand. On Friday, Vic confirmed Callaghan’s research during the current lockdown suggested that perhaps 60%-70% of pre-revenue agritech companies were close to running out of runway (funding). This is massive. What can New Zealand’s investor networks do to assist?

On Thursday, I’m delighted that we are being joined by Claudia Roessler, world-wide director of agriculture and life sciences at Microsoft. Claudia will be dialling in from Seattle and will talk about why Microsoft is investing in the agriculture and agritech space and some of the opportunities that exist for New Zealand agritech companies to engage.

In putting together the Insight webinar series, we spent time trying to balance between the ‘now’ and the ‘future’. As we begin to address life post Levels 4 & 3, now is the time to focus on what new opportunities can present themselves. I hope that the series of presentations we are putting together can help you on that journey.

Registration for all our webinars is free. Simply click on the links below and reserve you place now.

Dennis Donohue, Director, Western Growers Technology & Innovation Center.
Topic: Stateside challenges and how New Zealand agritech businesses can help solve them.
Tuesday 21 April 11.00am – 12.00pm.
Register here.

Richard Dellabarca, CEO, NZ Growth Capital Partners
Topic: Navigating the NZ Investment Landscape post COVID-19
Wednesday 22 April 11.00am – 12.00pmRegister here

Claudia Roessler, World Wide Director, Agriculture, Microsoft.
Topic: Microsoft’s investment in agriculture, the role of agritech and how local companies can partner.
Thursday 23 April 11.00am – 12.00pm.
Register here.

I look forward to meeting you online later this week!

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.