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Kia ora,

We are on the home straight! That was the opening sentence in last month’s newsletter. Little did I know that we would soon be embarking on several weeks of COVID-19 lockdown. I hope your family, friends and neighbours are safe, and remain well.

Over the past two weeks, the team has focused on rebuilding our programme in the age of coronavirus. It is made up of three parts;

  • Part One: Connecting and supporting a strong national agritech ecosystem
  • Part Two: AgriTech New Zealand Insights webinars
  • Part Three: Insights and Applications Data Standards webinars

Part One: Connecting and supporting a strong national agritech ecosystem

As we begin to experience a rapidly evolving business landscape, it’s crucial we understand the short, medium and long term impacts on our wider agritech ecosystem. As a result, in association with the Government’s Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) taskforce, Agritech New Zealand is conducting a major online survey of the sector. 

The purpose of the survey is to gain a better understanding of the sector’s resilience and business continuity planning during the current lockdown and beyond. The results of this survey will help both ourselves and the Government’s ITP taskforce identify new measures that might assist businesses navigate this challenging period. To guarantee confidentiality, the survey results will be anonymised. 

Please complete the survey here. Your input is vital and urgent with survey responses required by Monday 6 April. The first analysis will be ready by Easter, so the taskforce can review and determine the next steps. 

Of course, COVID-19 knows no national borders and during the last fortnight, we have seen significant engagement with our offshore partners and friends. This is an important component of the second part of our programme. 

Part Two: AgriTech New Zealand Insights

I’m excited today to announce the formal launch of AgriTech New Zealand Insights, a webinar series providing new ideas and developing new market opportunities for New Zealand’s agritech sector. It’s purpose is to create global agritech connections and promote New Zealand agritech to the world. Please register today to join our inaugural presenters on this inspiring new platform. It’s free and is an excellent opportunity to connect with world leading agritech thought leaders:

Arama Kukutai, Founder and Managing Director, Finistere Ventures Arama.
Topic: Current global agritech investment landscape and its impact on local agritech companies.
Wednesday 15 April 11.00am – 12.00pm.
Register here.

Vic Crone, CEO, Callaghan Innovation and Simon Yarrow, GM Agritech.
Topic: New initiatives to support early stage businesses in the current environment.
Friday 17 April 11.00am – 12.00pm.
Register here.

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.

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.

David Downs, New Zealand Government Agritech Industry Transformation Plan Taskforce.
Topic: Supporting the growth and scaling New Zealand’s agritech sector – an update on the planned delivery of the agritech ITP.
Wednesday 29 April 11.00am – 12.00pm.
Register here.

Adrian Percy, former Global Head of R&D at Bayer CropScience.
Topic: The role of major agri corporates, early stage collaboration and the impact on innovation.
Thursday 30 April 9.00am – 10.00am.
Register here.

Confirmed speakers with dates to be advised include;

Alexey Rostapshov, Head of John Deere Labs.
Topic: Discover John Deere’s vision for the digital farm of the future.

Michael Robertson, Deputy Director, Agriculture & Food Division, CSIRO.
Topic: Collaborating with the New Zealand research community.

Richard O’Gorman, Director, Rabobank Food & Agriculture Fund.
Topic: The evolving global landscape for agritech venture investment. 

Agritech New Zealand Insights is a major initiative designed to provide New Zealand agritech companies with an opportunity to learn and develop. I am deeply grateful to all the presenters who have agreed to share their knowledge, expertise and time with us. You are awesome!

Part Three: Insights and Applications Data Standards webinars

With the recent integration of the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ) with Agritech New Zealand, we are transitioning the planned “Insights and Applications” workshop at MobileTECH online. This workshop follows February’s workshop on Ag Data Standards and Interoperability. During the recent ITP workshop roadshow, data interoperability created perhaps more interest than any other.

The good news is we have now confirmed four webinars. The series will be led by international ag data standards expert, Jim Wilson, CEO of Open Applications Group and CTO of AgGateway, USA. The webinars will be moderated by Kenneth Irons, AgriTechNZ and PAANZ board member and CEO of Precision Farming, and other key players in the PAANZ team.

The Ag Data Standards “Insight and Applications” webinars are as follows:

Reasons and benefits for standards including influencers and competitive advantage.
Tuesday 14 April 12.30pm.
Register here.

Business processes and message data standards – a global perspective with implications for NZ. 
Tuesday 21 April 12.30pm.
Register here.

Reference data, data ownership and moving data around.
Tuesday 28 April 12.30pm.
Register here.

Application and benefits for New Zealand (and Australia) alignment with the agritech ITP
Tuesday 5 May 12.30pm.
Register here.

Over the past few weeks, I have continued to have regular contact with the Government’s Agritech ITP taskforce. While some of the immediate launch plans have had to be delayed, the drive to support the delivery of the Plan remains focused and for us, centre stage.

A significant amount of input came from Agritech New Zealand members during the consultation process and it will be those same people who will help implement many of the Plan’s key findings.

Over the coming days, we have further meetings with key members of the taskforce as we process forward. I will share details of what those steps might look like in the coming weeks.

Given the significant amount of digital work we are putting in place, I’ll be publishing a second newsletter after Easter. It will contain the confirmed dates for our next set of webinars and the first analysis from our COVID-19 survey. 

Having spoken to a number of members over the past few days, I’m very aware of the pressures that many are facing. It’s against this back drop that I hope the initiatives we are announcing today will help begin to address some of these pressures, as well as assist develop new pathways for the future. 

Until next time. Be calm, be kind, stay at home. We can break the chain.

Ngā mihi,

Peter Wren-Hilton
Executive Director
AgriTech New Zealand

AgriTechNZ Executive Council nominations

A reminder that nominations for the AgriTechNZ Executive Council are currently open. All AgriTechNZ member organisations can nominate a representative. Submit your nomination using the online form here. The deadline for nominations is 5pm on Thursday 9 April. Online elections will follow and the new Council will be announced at our Annual Meeting on Thursday 14 May. Please register if you want to attend the Annual Meeting – note this is a member only event.


Visit the Government’s new website for the latest updates and everything you need to know (including financial support).

Stay vigilant to avoid COVID-19 scams including malware and phishing. If working from home, step up your cybersecurity.

Learn more about the Government’s COVID-19 economic support package, including wage subsidies, business cashflow and tax measures.

COVID-19 is changing our everyday life. Even if you are not sick, you may feel anxious and this is normal. Know how to manage your wellbeing, read more.

Techweek2020 has been rescheduled and is going digital. The new dates are 27 July to 2 August and all events will be entirely online. This is an opportunity to be a platform for positive regrowth, economic stimulation and connections during our COVID-19 recovery phase. Please submit your digital events here.

The 2020 Diversity Awards celebrate the organisations championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Enter now.

Read the AI Forum’s report on AI for Agriculture in New Zealand. Have you joined the free online platform Scale-Up New Zealand?