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Sometimes it’s useful to glance backwards and reflect, as you forge ahead. This week we had our Annual Meeting and reviewed the year beginning in April, 2020. Just one week earlier, we had entered COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown and the year became a defining moment in our lifetime. Thankfully, the impact on our activities was not as dramatic as it potentially could have  been. It was a solid year for AgriTechNZ as we firmly stepped away from establishment and planning, and strengthened our capability to collaborate on unleashing New Zealand’s agritech expertise locally and globally.

Last year was active, as we developed our online skills and revelled in the opportunities to get together once we were able to. We had several thousand webinar registrations, squeezed in eight regional Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) updates, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AusAgritech, released the Aotearoa Agritech Unleashed Report and grew our membership to over 160 proactive organisations!

Speaking of strengthening our capability, at our Annual Meeting we announced the member representative election results for three positions on the Executive Council. We are delighted to confirm that Juliet Ansell from Zespri now joins Dan O’Brien from AWS to represent our Major Corporate members. Bridgit Hawkins from CropX joins Kenneth Irons from Precision Farming to represent SME members and Sophie Rebbeck from Lincoln Agritech was reelected and works with Peter Nation from the New Zealand National Fieldays Society representing Other Corporates. Even though Dion Cawood from LIC and Dan Bloomer from Landwise have stepped back from the Council, we’re already focused on ways to continue benefiting from their experience and wisdom. They have both been foundational in the creation of AgriTechNZ and the sector owes them a great deal.

We had 17 nominations for the three election seats. This is a great measure of the level of interest and engagement that is driving the growth of our sector. For those who were not successful this year, and for anyone wanting to play a more active role, please know we will continue creating opportunities for you to be involved.

Recently, we confirmed the makeup of our Agritech Leaders Data Reference Group with 11 representatives across our membership groups, regions and sector interests. We had over 50 expressions of interest and will keep everyone informed on the group’s strategies and work. If you would like to be kept updated, please drop us a note at

We have also received expressions of interest for the Agritech Skills Reference Group and will finalise this within the next week. This is an important focus for us all, as access to the right skills and talent may well be the biggest headwind we will face in growing the sector. It’s an issue we share with other groups in New Zealand. We will be collaborating with NZTech, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and other groups to align our activity. Again, if this is of particular interest, please email us to be added to the stakeholder updates.

We’re also in the final stages of a significant website update which will see the addition of a rich source of resources. We’re working with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Callaghan Innovation to share information across a range of topics. For example, one of the opportunities to  be showcased is Bayer’s global Grants4Ag program. The annual program awards researchers and scientists for sustainable solutions to agricultural challenges. If you would like to know more, please join the webinar on 26 July.

In other news, as a country partner for Farm 2050, we invite you to apply before 30 July for a New Zealand trial assessment. Farm 2050 is an initiative to validate new technologies in nutrient management whilst building valuable links and opportunities for counter seasonal trials in the Northern Hemisphere.

Earlier this month, AgriTechNZ attended the Primary Industries Summit hosted by Federated Farmers. It was an impressive gathering of leaders and influencers.  The Summit recognised the role innovation is playing in our primary industries. Congratulations to all the Awards winners, especially our members like Emma Boase from Horticulture New Zealand.

In the next few weeks we partner with the IoT Alliance and BioTechNZ to host several events. Join us on 27 July in Christchurch to discuss connectivity and connected on-farm devices. We will explore the current state and future potential for connected agritech solutions. On 4 August, we’ll be in Palmerston North discussing the pressing need for developments in cellular agriculture and gene editing to secure access to food for future generations.

There is plenty happening in the sector and it’s deservedly gaining attention to foster growth and impact.  Please stay in touch so we can help you make the most of the opportunities.

Ngā mihi

Chief Executive
AgriTech New Zealand

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