We are half-way through the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) Connect Tour and it’s been fantastic to meet so many of you in person. It’s events like this that remind me how much we all missed out on during the lockdown years and I’m thankful to be back on the road and engaging in discussion with similar, but different, clusters around the country.
It is our Membership that enables us to draw in the Government focus on programs like the Agritech ITP and other activities, thereby advancing the sector for everyone. We encourage anyone that is involved in technology, science, research or other services applied to the agriculture sector to get in touch and join us as we accelerate the agritech industry.
If you missed out on attending our in-person sessions we will be running a webinar on Wednesday 5 April. Register here.
Chief Executive, AgriTechNZ
Welcome to our new Members
At AgriTechNZ we have a wide and growing Membership base that spans the entire ecosystem. We’d like to send a warm welcome to the latest members to join our community.
Well Balanced – Well Balanced are a team of New Zealand investors focused on growth in domestic and international markets for agribusiness, necessary technology, property, building and construction and energy.
Tnue – Tnue customises fertiliser delivery solutions to achieve optimal Nutrient Use Efficiency (NUE) through the manufacture of Control Release Membrane (CRM) and the application of the CRM to the fertiliser granule.
Air Vision NZ Ltd – Air Vision NZ is a small family-owned business located in Levin specialising in drone services including mapping, surveying and inspections.
Volly Solutions – Volly Solutions are a small family-owned business based in Morrinsville, Hamilton offering farm mapping, aerial imagery and other drone-based services as well as digital farm solutions.
During 2022 there has been hard-won growth in our industry. Our members and sector partners continue to inspire us with their drive to grow and improve.
Despite difficult trade conditions, we’ve seen impressive organic growth, acquisitions by our mature businesses, capability and knowledge growth across our research groups, and the emergence of many more startup businesses.
Perhaps even more impressively, we have noticed increasing ecosystem citizenship behaviour through collaborative approaches, collective action and social exchanges. For example, indirect actions include supporting the development of others in our community and paying it forward. In a country that has a small, vibrant agritech market, these behaviours will help create even greater prosperity and impact from the agritech industry.
We remain committed to passionately advocating on behalf of our community and fostering collaborative practice wherever we can. During the year we hosted eight Member Connect Events, a Parliamentary Dinner and three International Virtual Summits. We also championed the continued Government partnership approach to our sector andmade two Government Submissions. This year we launched the Baseline of Digital Adoption in Primary Industries, participated in the inaugural Fieldays Digital Futures Hub, multiple Advisory Groups and commented frequently on the important topics.
Special thanks to the hardworking AgriTechNZ and NZTech teams, our wise and generous Executive Council, our awesome Members, plus our collaborative industry and Government partners. I wish you all a regenerative holiday season!
On the road again
We’re back on the road from early February! Our Agritech Connect Tour will share updates and gather your valuable input on the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan and more. You’ll learn more about our tools, resources and 2023 plans. Our tour is the ideal opportunity to connect, learn and influence. Stay tuned for more information, but until then, please save these dates: 2 February in Christchurch, 8 February in Hamilton, 10 February in Tauranga, 14 February in Auckland, 2 March in Wellington, 7 March in Nelon, 9 March in Dunedin and 15 March in Palmerston North. Further dates and locations to be announced.
Coming soon… even more agritech news!
In 2023, we’re launching a new channel with Farmers Weekly, curating agritech industry news. Keep updated on agritech solutions in our industry that contributes $1.6 billion towards New Zealand’s economy with potential growth of $10 billion over the next decade.
How fabulous was Fieldays?
Fieldays was certainly a success for AgriTechNZ with plenty of authentic opportunities to connect with the industry. Our sold out events received overwhelmingly positive feedback. The Women in Agriculture session hosted in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) was especially popular and we intend to repeat it. The opportunity to meet and discuss sector interests had some unexpected consequences. For example, our position in the Pavilion at the inaugural Fieldays Digital Futures Hub meant we were able to guide visitors to specific exhibitors of interest. Planning is well underway for Fieldays 2023, 14-17 June. The Fieldays Innovation Awards were also a great success, and applications are now open for next year.
Join our first 2023 webinar: Global Insights – How can New Zealand respond to overseas trends?
Meet 2022 Nuffield scholar Lucie Douma, who shares key agritech insights following her international study tour exploring environmental and farming contexts. This year, Lucie spent four months visiting farmers, growers and support organisations across Europe, North America and Australia. Join us to hear Lucie’s key agritech insights including water challenges in North America, labour shortages, corporatising farm trends, food security, soil understanding and knowledge, plus the corn belt and the role of genetically modified organisms (GMO). She will also discuss the impact of production and growth trends for New Zealand and how we position ourselves on the global stage.
AgriFutures Australia are hosting the next agrifood tech event in Adelaide, 20-21 February. We’ll be there to connect the ecosystem of farmers, innovators, researchers, companies and investors. We highly recommend you join us and strengthen our Trans-Tasman representation. Once you’ve secured your tickets please register for Callaghan Innovation’s Australian Market Immersion to ensure you gain the most from your visit.
Blue economy interests
As part of the Agritech ITP, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and AgriTechNZ are gauging levels of interest and commitment to aquatech developments. Do you know any local companies who have innovative solutions in aquaculture or in an adjacent technology/sector and would benefit from a top quality market entry accelerator? There is potential for a New Zealand cohort to participate in an international aquaculture market entry accelerator. We are currently seeking recommendations from our networks for prospective cohort participants. The accelerator will be delivered by global aquaculture specialists Hatch in partnership with NZTE.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your recommendations by 22 December.
Meri Kirihimete me te Hape Nū Ia!
Chief Executive, on behalf of the Executive Council of AgriTech New Zealand
PS: Please don’t forget! We love to share your Member news and events. If you’re doing something cool, please let us know!
Read more: AgriTechNZ News: Meri Kirihimete
AgriTechNZ and Rezare Systems are working with the Ministry for Primary Industries on a project that aims to align the way we describe and identify data elements, so that farmers and their ecosystem can participate in a range of industry initiatives without reinventing the wheel for each initiative.
Why are we doing this?
You will be aware of the central and regional government and industry initiatives around farm systems, integrated farm planning, freshwater farm planning, and emissions reporting.
Each of these initiatives leverages data about farms and catchments, and each initiative rightfully has its own data requirements and data dictionary that align with regulatory or supply chain requirements.
AgriTech New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Data Interoperability Working Group recognise that there are benefits in aligning the data definitions in these initiatives. Alignment will reduce the confusion that could otherwise about “similar but different” terms. Alignment will also allow farmers and their organisations and advisors to re-use data more effectively.
What are we doing?
This is not a huge project. Most initiatives and programmes already have existing glossaries or data dictionaries that could be aligned. Organisations also have their own data schemas and experts who know how data elements should be interpreted. The opportunity is to bring these together.
AgriTech New Zealand and MPI have retained Rezare Systems (who previously worked on the NZ Farm Data Standards) to engage with data stewards (service providers and software companies), and obtain existing glossaries or data dictionaries, to analyse where they can be aligned. The outcome will be an updated set of definitions, made available as open source, and planned to be integrated into other evolving initiatives such as Integrated Farm Planning and LINK Aotearoa (previously called LINK 2025).
The timeline looks like this:
Could you be involved?
We are looking for people with informed opinions on the definition and interpretation of data fields used to support environmental initiatives. These definitions include spatial, livestock, crop, water, or fertiliser activities.
We are particularly interested in talking to people in organisations with their own definitions, glossaries, or database schemas. If this could be you or someone in your organisation, please get in contact at email@example.com
My first international visit since the pandemic has been an insightful reminder that while we’ve been working on agritech growth strategies, so has the rest of the world!
Most of my time has been spent touring the United Kingdom’s (UK) agritech centres of excellence. This highlighted the level of local investment in agritech in addition to the upheaval and opportunities present.
In 2015, the UK was one of the first countries to have a national agritech strategy. Since then, it has been funded by Innovate UK with significant investment in four agritech centres, each with their own speciality:
These centres for agricultural innovation are a collaborative model between industry and government. The aim is to help the UK commericalise innovation, encourage inward investment and improve farming practice.
During the last fortnight, I’ve met with key people from each of these groups and continue to deepen our network of networks for agritech innovators. Many New Zealand companies are already establishing a position in the UK and benefiting from access to the significant resources of these groups.
What I have found most interesting in the UK, is the relatively high level of technology capability, but low level of domestic technology adoption. Within that dynamic lies great opportunity for collaboration between the UK and New Zealand agritech innovators both of whom work in different domestic environments and have shared global aspirations.
During my visit, local commentators described the factors contributing towards a ‘decade of disruption’. In addition to the global challenge of food production in a climate crisis and the food system impacts from the war in Ukraine, UK farmers are also facing the phase out of a Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). Until recently, this has subsidised their operations based on the area they farm. This is being replaced with supports for three areas of policy impact (productivity, environmental outcomes and landscape/air/water quality) but at lower levels than the BPS.
Interestingly, the devolution of agricultural policy to each country in the UK will see a divergence in how support is applied;.
This is a notable period of change in the UK. Approximately 40 percent of farmers have only been profitable with the BPS and a further 15 percent who are not profitable even with the BPS. Farmers will require significant adjustments to their practices. Like many other countries, they will be searching for the optimal sweet spot combining productivity and environmental improvements. Both will require a new suite of tools and capabilities.
Earlier this year, the New Zealand Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (AITP) supported an Agritech Story campaign in the Farmers Guardian. I was delighted to receive positive feedback during several meetings in the UK and Ireland about how it struck a chord in the market. Later this year, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and the AITP team will collaborate again on another campaign. Yes, the primary audience is UK farmers, but it’s worth noting the whole ecosystem pays attention and the potential for technology collaborations is significant.
Certainly, local details may differ, but the common challenges of farming in a climate crisis are shared. This is truly the age of agritech as farmers and growers seek innovations necessary to navigate disruption. It’s also true that neither the UK nor New Zealand can justify substantial investments in agritech developments without taking those solutions to international markets.
The connections strengthened on this visit will continue to be nurtured when the UK Department of International Trade (UK DIT) visit New Zealand with a cohort of UK agritech innovators for Fieldays 2022..
We look forward to continuing to develop and collaborate on successful projects with all our UK partners.
And for our Members, we will continue to provide opportunities to connect, promote and advance our ecosystem. This type of engagement is just one example supporting our goal to connect our Members and participate in opportunities for economic growth.
Enjoy more inspiring agritech stories! Next, we talk to three local innovators about their growth journeys. We learn how they navigated very different strategies to thrive on the global stage.
Building a global business takes more than a bright idea! A resilient attitude, compelling mission, great team and a strategic approach to fundraising are part of the growth puzzle. Kiwi innovators CropX’s Bridgit Hawkins, SnapIT’s Chris Rodley and Gallagher’s Lisbeth Jacobs explain how they’re growing great agritech businesses. View now.
CropX’s Bridgit Hawkins didn’t purposely set out to start a company! She grew up on a sheep and beef farm outside Taupo and qualified with an agricultural science degree. While working in business development roles in the primary sector, she was frustrated at the disconnect between research and development, and what farmers were doing.
Once Bridgit partnered with Massey University to develop sensor technology she soon realised having a great product and good customers in New Zealand wasn’t enough.
“We got to the point where it was difficult to grow organically at the rate we needed… we realised that we could ruin ourselves and the company by trying to go global,” explains CropX’s Bridgit Hawkins who decided to look for a strategic partner. Read more.
SnapIT is another New Zealand company with huge ambitions. The company has come a long way from Dave Rodley’s garage where his sons Chris and Andrew first tinkered with webcams. Soon, their high definition cameras caught the attention of tourism operators, the MetService, TV3 weather and construction sites. But it was Chris who stumbled across an opportunity that changed the direction of the company.
“I was up a ladder installing a camera when the CEO of one of the largest fishing companies in New Zealand walked past and said, ‘Can you put that camera on a boat?’” says Chris.
Soon they were in discussions with Callaghan Innovation to develop a marine-proof, AI enabled camera and within ten days they had pitched to ten companies and haven’t looked back since! Read more.
Gallagher is one of New Zealand’s largest and most successful agritech companies, founded in 1938 to commercialise the world’s first electric fence.
Since then, the Hamilton-based company has been helping farmers harness the power of hardware, software and more recently data, to make their jobs more efficient.
“I come from Belgium, another small country and I’m impressed by how close a lot of people in the New Zealand agritech sector are to the land because they grew up on a farm. There’s an incredible amount of innovation in New Zealand. What we lack sometimes is the inability to work together. That’s what we’re looking to do at Gallagher,” Lisbeth Jacobs, Global General Manager Animal Management, Gallagher. Read more.
Is connection to the land important to you? What does ‘place’ mean to you and your business? It might be where you grew up, where your business is based, or the unique characteristics of the region you live in.
We’d love to hear your stories to help inspire other Kiwi agritech entrepreneurs. Please contact us.
Ngā mihiBrendan O’Connell