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AgriTechNZ News: On the road and in the news!

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

Following our own version of Groundhog Day, we’re looking forward to getting out on the road again with our Agritech Connect Tour next month.  Meeting and connecting in person is the key to building our community of shared interests. We will be highlighting the progress, tools and services that are emerging from the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP). As the first National Strategy for our sector, we’re also keen to reflect on our learnings and how we can continue building the conditions for improvement and growth. Like so many of the organisations and businesses in our sector, testing new approaches is a vital part of how we can refine our business focus.

This month, we’ve seen some great examples of business model innovations amongst our members.  Chris Rodley and the team at Snap Information Technologies bucked the trend and acquired an overseas business. It’s great to see this expansive approach to business development and we wish Chris and the team well as they continue their work with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) here and take it into global markets. Read more. We also celebrate the ‘triple helix’ of MPI, Robotics Plus and the University of Waikato as the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund supports the commercialisation of asparagus harvesting technology. Many of us have watched this project with interest because of the global potential in asparagus automation systems. To see technology that can positively impact New Zealand primary industry and create significant technology exports is a perfect example of what we all aspire to in the agritech sector! Congratulations to Steve Penno (MPI), Steve Saunders (Robotics Plus) and Mike Duke (University of Waikato) and their respective teams for the work and collaboration and we wish them well in its implementation. Read more.

New Zealand Agritech Story

Last week, I joined activation workshops with United Kingdom (UK) based, New Zealand agritech companies who are developing  their own marketing campaigns alongside the Agritech Story. The combination of an overarching context, shared stories and collaboration will have a ‘greater than the sum of its parts’  impact for these businesses.

Following the launch of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) and our pandemic response, the time is right to leverage the positive international sentiment towards New Zealand and reactivate the Agritech Story in key offshore markets. In collaboration with Government agencies and agritech businesses, we are piloting offshore agritech campaigns, initially targeting the UK. The learnings from this will then provide a blueprint for activation in other markets.

Next month, we will share the campaign toolkit, with insights, messaging, images and videos to help you share the New Zealand Agritech story in your market.

On 28 October we are hosting an Auckland event in partnership with the AI Forum that highlights the role of technologies in responding to environmental and climate challenges. This event will explore the current state and potential for agritech solutions to help reduce emissions and mitigate the challenges to producers and growers as they respond to the climate crisis. Please register to attend. These discussions support the wider conversations being curated at the Oceania 2035 Summit being hosted in Auckland next year.

We’re also looking forward to participating in continued discussions on Cellular Agriculture in November.  Last month in Palmerston North, we began these discussions with our partners at BioTechNZ. Supported by Food HQ, we joined a room full of primary industry interests as we explored the current state and future potential of Cellular Agriculture. Review the presentation hereand join the inaugural Cultured Meat and Seafood Symposiumin Auckland on 2 November.

Trust, Traceability of Digital Trade are key themes for the primary sector and many other industries. If you’re near Hastings on 5 November or want to stretch your domestic travel legs, please register to attend this blockchain event. If you’re a member, please contact usfor a discount code.

Pandemic permitting, we look forward to connecting with many of you in the coming months as we travel the country and continue promoting our shared sector interests.

Ngā mihi,

Chief Executive
AgriTech New Zealand

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Posted in AgriTechNZ News

AgriTechNZ News: skills, stories and science!

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

As we once again adapt to the new normal, we find some things changing while others continue as usual. Earlier this month, we had the first face to face meeting of our new Executive Council. It was a good opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and what needs to happen going forward.  Together, we remain strongly focused on connecting, promoting and advocating for the interests of the agritech community.

Like everyone, we are currently adjusting our in-person events schedule and will feature some online sessions during September. Coming soon; please keep an eye out for information on the Global Agritech Futures series. This is being hosted in partnership with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and key international partners. Plus, an update on the AgriFoodTech Investment Landscape with our partners at Finistere Ventures.

Our event with LocationTech, Mapping Ag, has been rescheduled to October 21 in Wellington. We will also be touring the country with our Agritech Connect Tour at the end of September. This is  an excellent opportunity for our community to come together and discuss topics of shared interest. In addition to progress updates on the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP), there will also be focus sessions introducing new tools and services, and opportunities to help shape our shared ambitions for agritech in and from Aotearoa.

Earlier this month, we hosted a Connect Event with BioTechNZ, exploring cellular agriculture. If you would like to know more about cell-based meat, please review the presentation slides. The discussion was thoroughly engaging and included the role of New Zealand science and innovation in solving global food issues, as a separate effort from providing food from New Zealand. More information is also available here. Special thanks to Olivia Ogilvie of the University of Canterbury for sharing.

Agritech Skills

Many of you would have participated in the recent NZTech survey on challenges with accessing data and software skills locally and through immigration pathways. The results of this Critical Workers Border Exemption Survey were sent to the Government to raise awareness that the current interpretation of their rules at the border was making it almost impossible to get critical tech staff into New Zealand. We are progressing the Agritech Skills Reference Group and can still accept expressions of interest to be involved, please contact us.

New Zealand Agritech Story

I am pleased to provide an update on sharing the New Zealand Agritech Story with the world.

Following the launch of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) and our response to COVID-19, the time is right to leverage the positive international sentiment towards New Zealand and reactivate the Agritech Story in key offshore markets.

Together, with the Government agencies and innovative agritech businesses, we are piloting a collaborative and co-ordinated approach to deliver offshore agritech campaigns, initially targeting the United Kingdom (UK).

The learnings from the UK campaign will provide a blueprint for activation in other markets. Coming soon: campaign toolkit, with insights, messaging, images and videos to help you share the New Zealand Agritech story in your market.

Science and Research Updates

New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) and AgResearch are partnering to design and deliver a new future-focused eResearch Platform. The collaboration will foster expertise across both organisations and brings together a range of tools. For example, computing power, software, storage, and research networks, as well as mutual support networks for delivering user support and establishing critical mass through training and community building. Learn more here.

Consumer interest in animal welfare is steadily increasing and new technologies are providing new opportunities to quantify, improve and convey animal welfare states. In response, AgResearch, DairyNZ and Fonterra have  collaborated on the initiative, An animal-centric dairy industry enabled by digital technology as part of the AgResearch led New Zealand Bioeconomy in the Digital Age(NZBIDA) programme. They are hosting a webinar on Wednesday 1 September at 10:30am. If you’re interested in joining please email Jeremy Bryant.

Baseline of Digital Adoption

In other news, we have appointed insights agency Research First as the delivery partner for our survey on Digital Adoption in Primary Industries. Research First brings extensive experience in designing and delivering longitudinal studies within the rural sector and is highly regarded for its skill in using data to inform strategic thinking. Currently, we are designing the survey and would like to hear from those  interested in partnering on this work. Please contact us if you would like to know more.

Keep well in your lockdown bubbles and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Ngā mihi,

Chief Executive
AgriTech New Zealand 

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Posted in AgriTechNZ News

AgriTechNZ is pleased to announce its 2021/22 Executive Council and lead roles

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

AgriTechNZ is pleased to announce its 2021/22 Executive Council and lead roles. Kenneth Irons, MD of Precision Farming, has been re-elected Chair for a second term, and Sophie Rebbeck, Lincoln Agritech, has been re-elected to the Corporate Other seat and also elected Deputy Chair.  New members joining the EC are Bridgit Hawkins (CropX) and Juliet Ansell (Zespri).  The healthy competition for these three elected seats came from 17 nominations, a sign of the significant industry engagement in developing our ecosystem and realising the full potential of agritech to and from Aotearoa.

The EC, who met in Wellington for a full-day strategy session on 3 August, setting the direction for AgriTechNZ for the coming year, are from left, seated, Brendan O’Connell, AgriTechNZ CEO; Kenneth Irons, Chair, AgriTechNZ, representing SME; and Sophie Rebbeck, Deputy Chair.  Standing, Peter Nation, CEO of National Fieldays representing Corporate Other; Juliet Ansell representing Major Corporates; Kylie Horomia, WayBeyond, co-representing Independents, Dr Haydn Read, Te Apanui, representing Iwi; Maria Jose Alvarez, NZ Capital Growth Partners, co-representing Independents; Bridgit Hawkins, representing SME; Graeme Muller, CEO NZ Tech; and Dan O’Brien, AWS, representing Major Corporates.  Also on the EC, not photographed, are Andrew Hoggard, National President, Federated Farmers, representing Farmer/Practitioners; and Simon Yarrow, Callaghan Innovation, representing Government.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

AgriTechNZ News: Glancing Back To Forge Ahead

Monday, July 19th, 2021

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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Posted in AgriTechNZ News

AgriTechNZ and AgTech Ireland sign an agreement highlighting the global opportunity for agritech solutions

Monday, June 14th, 2021

Today AgTech Ireland and AgriTechNZ signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop shared insights and opportunities for innovative improvements to food production. The MoU highlights the global opportunities that can be addressed by innovative solutions from both regions. 

“This is a great opportunity to connect the ecosystem of companies in both countries who are innovating to solve global issues. Our respective organisations have a common goal to accelerate the development of agricultural technologies that enable our producers to increase productivity and profitability, more sustainably. We look forward to connecting peers, sharing insights and looking for collaborative opportunities,” Says Padraig Hennessy, AgTech Ireland chairman. 

AgriTech New Zealand is delighted to be formalising this relationship with AgTech Ireland, says Kenneth Irons, AgriTechNZ chair.

“Both countries have farming systems based on seasonal pasture and excel in innovation for these systems. From this background, innovators in each country are connecting technology potential with producer needs across a widening range of food systems.    We share a common purpose to exchange ideas and find mutual opportunities to address wider global issues. 

“By co-signing this Memorandum of Understanding, we can not only more successfully create better value for our two countries’ primary sectors, we can also impact global food systems by jointly identifying and addressing the issues facing global agriculture. The best way to support our farmers and growers is to ramp up investment in the tools that will help them thrive,” says Kenneth. 

AgriTech New Zealand (AgriTechNZ) and AgTech Ireland are both member organisations promoting the integration of technology with agriculture to strengthen food systems around the world. Each organisation is founded in an economy based on the production of high-quality food and the development of innovative technologies. The organisations share the same goals of promoting and advocating for the opportunities and challenges in agricultural innovation around the world.   

For further information contact:

Padraig Hennessy
Chairman – AgTech Ireland
Tel. +353 87 216 5374
Kenneth Irons
Chairman – AgriTechNZ
Tel. +64 21 820 121

About AgriTechNZ 

Launched in 2018, AgriTech New Zealand is a purpose driven, membership funded organisation whose members share a passion for the opportunities that agritech can generate. 

AgriTech New Zealand connects innovators, investors, regulators, researchers and interested public.  It promotes opportunities and challenges raised by agritech.  AgriTech New Zealand advances the ecosystem through advocacy, collaboration, innovation, talent and economic growth through international connections and missions.  It is governed by an Executive Council. 

About AgTech Ireland 

AgTech Ireland represents agtech companies across policy, research and farm level. Its aim is to showcase the benefits of technology adoption on farm and communicate how agtech has a key role in sustainability to all stakeholders moving forward. 

Launched in 2021, AgTech Ireland is a membership funded organisation which will act as a single point of contact for government, media, foreign trade missions and research for its industry. 

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

AgriTech New Zealand appoints two new Executive Council members

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

AgriTech New Zealand is pleased to announce the appointment of Kylie Horomia and Maria Jose Alvarez to the Executive Council, further supporting the organisations goals.

“As a member funded organisation, we are conscious of having an Executive that brings a wide range of skills, experience, and background to our collective ambition of transforming agriculture globally,” explains Council Chair Kenneth Irons.

“We have taken this opportunity to expand our capabilities. For maximum impact, we chose to appoint two great candidates to one shared voting seat. Each brings solid expertise in complementary areas.”  

“Kylie’s communications expertise as well as knowledge of horticulture and Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) sector are assets we are excited to add to the Council, while Maria Jose’s experience in biotech and agritech investment sets us up well to drive our agenda forward.”

Kylie Horomia is the Head of Industry Transformation for global agritech firm WayBeyond. Her role is focused on championing sustainability and advocating for diversity and further educational experiences highlighting the possibilities that agritech has to offer.

“I’m excited to be part of an organisation focused on revolution. Agritech is incredibly fast-paced and keeping our members ahead of the game on the global stage is incredibly important. We also look for those champions who can be held up as the gold standard to encourage more young people to become involved,” says Kylie.

Maria Jose Alvarez is an Investment Manager at NZ Growth Capital Partners and founder of a biotech startup applied in the agritech sector. Her mission is to support the commercialisation and investment of Kiwi deep-tech companies with high growth potential.

“AgriTechNZ has done fantastic work connecting the ecosystem. When we think about ways to feed the planet, as well as preserving it and making it sustainable for future generations, we are talking largely about deep technologies ingrained in agriculture. I’m pleased I can play a role in an organisation that advocates for that, ” says Maria Jose.   

AgriTechNZ is focused both on the application of new technologies in New Zealand as well as the export of solutions to global food producing markets.

“These two new appointments recognise New Zealand’s role in a widening range of food systems and the need to connect with global markets and capital,” says Kenneth.

Both appointments are for one year and effective from 8 June, 2021.

For media interviews or image requirements contact:

Brendan O’Connell

Chief Executive

M: +64 21 369 740


About AgriTechNZ

Agritech is providing alternatives to traditional farming methods and revolutionising the sector.  New innovations can increase productivity gains to maximise profitability for the primary sector, for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

Launched in 2018, AgriTech New Zealand is a purpose driven, membership funded organisation whose members share a passion for the opportunities that agritech can generate.

AgriTech New Zealand connects innovators, investors, regulators, researchers and interested public.  It promotes opportunities and challenges raised by agritech.  AgriTech New Zealand advances the ecosystem through advocacy, collaboration, innovation, talent and economic growth through international connections and missions.  It is governed by an Executive Council.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

New Zealand and Australian MOU strengthens trans-Tasman Agritech Sector

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

AgriTech New Zealand (AgriTechNZ) and The Australian Agritech Association (AusAgritech) are member organisations promoting technology development and adoption that seeks to revolutionise the value of the agricultural and food sectors. Both organisations share the same goals to promote and advocate for the opportunities and challenges across the Agritech sector.

Today AusAgritech and AgriTechNZ signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ignite support for the Agritech industry within Australia and New Zealand. The MOU has been designed to highlight the regional opportunities of a collaborative Agritech hub in the trans-Tasman region.

The chairman of AusAgritech, Andrew Coppin, said “This is a wonderful development for Agritech in this region. The opportunities to work with and collaborate with our friends in New Zealand to deliver better outcomes for farmers, more regional jobs and significant export opportunities for both countries is compelling. This MOU is a further extension and validation of the foundations laid by the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council throughout 2020.”

NZ Agritech Chair, Kenneth Irons, said “Agritech New Zealand is delighted to be formalising its relationship with its sister organisation across the Tasman. Both organisations share a common goal of accelerating the development of agricultural technologies that enable our farmers and growers to increase productivity and profitability, more sustainably. 

He went on to say “By co-signing this Memorandum of Understanding, we can not only more successfully create better value for our two countries’ primary sectors, we can also more successfully promote Australasia to its rightful position as one of the truly great Agritech regions of the world.”

The Australian Agritech Association will promote this activity to relevant Australian government agencies, major Australian agribusiness partners and its rapidly growing cohort of Agritech members. Agritech New Zealand will seek to extend global opportunities of preparing a more formal partnership between the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center and the vibrant Agritech ecosystem that is developing well in New Zealand, in large part due to the New Zealand government’s Agritech Industry Transformation Plan which the government is implementing in collaboration with AgriTechNZ.

For further information contact:

Andrew Coppin                                                                 Kenneth Irons
Chairman – AusAgritech                                                Chairman – AgriTechNZ                                          

Tel. +61 418 909 977                                                       Tel. +64 21 820 121

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Partnership set to turbo-charge agritech AI research

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

A New Zealand partnership is developing new artificial intelligence (AI) computing power and technology to meet demand from scientists for faster processing of complex research data. 

The PlantTech Research Institute in Tauranga and New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) have partnered to accelerate innovative research.

Horticulture and produce are among the first New Zealand industries to benefit from this faster AI computing infrastructure, with PlantTech scientists using it to explore new approaches to data driven horticulture in key sectors, including kiwifruit. 

It will remove computer processing bottlenecks that limit the ability for data scientists to train AI models that learn from high volumes of complex and tightly coupled data. It will also dramatically reduce the turnaround times for current AI research. 

NeSI has procured a first tranche of Nvidia A100 general purpose Graphics Processing Units (GPGPUs) and is working with early adopter communities, including PlantTech, to pilot these new technologies.  

“This is a special collaboration, enhancing the capabilities and support we offer to New Zealand’s agricultural research communities, particularly those working in emerging technologies, such as AI and deep learning,” says NeSI director Nick Jones. 

PlantTech chief executive Dr Mark Begbie says access to the high-performance GPU-based platform is critical for PlantTech’s market driven, horticulture focussed research, as well as for the wider primary sector. 

“Having access to the latest generation of systems brings capabilities that will enable new approaches to highly complex data challenges that will deliver step change benefits across productivity, profitability, sustainability, provenance, and biosecurity,” he says.  

“Achieving the transfer 80-100 times faster is hugely beneficial – a day-and-a-half becomes an hour. But for large data packages, transfer is simply not practically achievable over the internet.”  

“In 2021, this is more important than ever, particularly as the Government focuses on New Zealand’s economic recovery post-COVID-19 and executes the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) to build stronger and more productive horticulture and agriculture sectors.” 

In its first year, the research institute has trialled innovative solutions for the kiwifruit industry, including crop estimation and fruit maturity testing. 

Dr Georgina Rae, NeSI’s science engagement manager, expects the new platform will act as a catalyst for boundary breaking science in New Zealand. 

“Other countries have been exploring these capabilities for years, but having an indigenous, accessible platform in New Zealand will support the momentum we’re seeing build around technology and solutions that support data driven decision making on orchards and farms.”  

Read more. 

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

AgritechNZ news: Valuing our connections

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

The forced social experiment of the current pandemic leaves me feeling incredibly grateful for our place in the world.  Thankfully, we can connect in person as a local community of interests in global agritech, here in Aotearoa.  We are currently three events into a 10 event roadshow and the interactions are invigorating on many levels.  Later this month, we’ll publish our 2021 calendar of events, providing further opportunities to connect.

Locally and overseas, as a sector, agritech is taking new shape, so there has never been a more important time to consider what collaboration and cooperation, look and feel like.  Our current roadshow includes an update on the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) as workstream activities progress.  The opportunity for industry engagement is key to its success, so we hope you can 
make it to one of the sessions.

Many of you will be aware of the Agritech Story created by New Zealand Story and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).  As part of our ITP work, we are seeking interested parties to join workshops during March and April to take a pulse check and co-create our international campaign.  If you are marketing your business in international markets, or are ready to do so, we would love to hear from you.

We are also making good progress in the creation of a Baseline of Digital Adoption in Primary Industry audit.  This will gauge some of the qualitative and quantitative progress in technology use across different farming systems.  Again, if you would like to support this work, we’re keen to hear from you.

Meanwhile, entries for the Most Innovative Hitech Agritech Solution in the New Zealand Hi Tech awards close on 8 March.  Here’s some tips for writing an entry that will get noticed.  Don’t forget to save the date for the awards dinner on 28 May.Applications are now open for Fieldays Innovation 2021 with revised categories and more prize money, although the real prize is  the global attention these awards receive.  This year, Fieldays is 16-19 June at Mystery Creek, Hamilton. 

Registrations are also open for the Sprout Agritech Accelerator’s second intake, commencing in July.  The Sprout Accelerator is tailor made for each company, focussing on four core areas to enable scalable growth – high margin business models, channels to market, building world class teams, investment readiness and capital raising.  This year’s first cohort has been announced and will soon begin their journey of discovery.  Applications close on 9 June.

Ngā mihi

AgriTech New Zealand

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Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Advancing agritech for New Zealand

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

In New Zealand, when we think of countries known for their agritech prowess, we frequently refer to Singapore, Israel, The Netherlands, Ireland and the United States of America (USA).

Already under way, but accelerated by the global pandemic, more countries with strong agricultural contributions to their gross domestic product (GDP) are investing significantly in advancing their agtech sectors.  For example, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

This further highlights the importance of New Zealand’s Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) developed in partnership with the All of Government taskforce and supported with a significant 2020 Budget allocation. Brendan O’Connell, our interim CEO, tells me he recently attended one of the early industry reference groups (the Horticulture Automation Activator) advising and creating ITP project activity. He was impressed by the genuine collaboration that is directing further investment and creating industry capabilities to address systemic issues.

I recently had the opportunity to meet virtually with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s (NZTE) global team, so they could be updated on our deep and broad ITP engagement, and its focus to enable New Zealand’s agritech sector to punch above its weight domestically, across Australasia and globally. But there was a salient message from the NZTE team, and one we do well to heed. Currently, New Zealand does not have global brand recognition as a leader in agtech – agriculture, for sure – but not agtech. At least not as much as we think, if we fall victim to believing what we hear in our own echo chamber.

We have a solid foundation with the ITP, and we have some great companies doing remarkable work. There is still much to do before New Zealand is recognised as the agritech country we aspire to be. There are three practical steps we can undertake to help achieve this aspiration.

Firstly, members get members – if you know of colleagues in the agritech sector who are not members of AgritechNZ, please invite them to join. Having a strong industry voice will direct efforts in areas that most benefit New Zealand agritech businesses.

Second, collaborate domestically – support the data standards and interoperability work that is being ably undertaken by our Practitioner Working Group. It is unglamorous back-room work, about as fascinating as underground power cables or cell phone towers, but essential to enable the free flow of permissioned data, on which farmers and growers, global suppliers and buyers can make better decisions.

Third, partner with Australia – adding our two sectors together still leaves us as a drop in the ocean in terms of global spend. We are stronger together, and can’t afford to duplicate resources to produce identical outcomes on both sides of the pond.  AgritechNZ and AusAgritech are forging deeper and better relations at both association and individual member level.

Ngā mihi

Kenneth Irons
Agritech New Zealand

PS: Please let us know of your industry event if you would like it mentioned in future newsletters.

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Posted in AgriTechNZ News

AgriTechNZ Developments And Progress

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Since its inception in 2018, AgriTechNZ has grown significantly and now combines the resources of members, supporters, funders and researchers. We are a 160+ member-strong organisation with the people, passion, resources and direction to deliver value to producers, growers, researchers, Government and our agritech businesses large and small.

We’re now able to progress and participate in work that will benefit global agriculture, New Zealand, our sector and our businesses. The New Zealand Government’s Agritech Industry Transformation Plan enables us as businesses and government organisations to collaborate in new ways. AgriTechNZ is now the only group that represents a collective and independent view of the agritech sector in New Zealand. We have a lot to be proud of: our work empowers primary production, and together we can take this even further. Let’s make the most of the many opportunities ahead of us. 

Welcome to our experienced new Executive Council

AgriTechNZ’s Executive Council (EC) has now replaced the formative Establishment Council. The new EC includes Andrew Hoggard, National President of Federated Farmers, Dan Bloomer of LandWISE, Daniel O’Brien of AWS, Simon Yarrow of Callaghan Innovation, Sophie Rebbeck of Lincoln Agritech, Peter Nation, CEO of New Zealand National Fieldays, Brendan O’Connell (independent), and deputy chair Dion Cawood of Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC).

Introducing our new Interim CEO

Brendan O’Connell has been appointed as the interim CEO while the Executive Council formally recruits a permanent CEO. He will build on the successes achieved during Peter Wren-Hilton’s tenure as Executive Director and will continue working with Peter in the further delivery of member benefits. In this role Brendan will work with members and government representatives to further develop the ITP opportunities and progress existing projects.

Brendan has a technology leadership background and has developed a strong affinity with the agritech sector, its people and its purpose. 

On behalf of the EC and all members, I extend our thanks and appreciation to Peter and Jacqui Wren-Hilton for their significant contribution to the establishment of AgriTechNZ. We are delighted that they can continue to add their experience and insight in an advisory role with a particular focus on key global alliances. 

Your opportunity to be involved 

Over the past 12 months, AgriTechNZ has been working with the ‘all of New Zealand Government’ taskforce to assist with the delivery of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP). The published Agritech ITP document proposes two initial High Impact projects and six workstreams, designed to support the development of New Zealand’s agritech sector’s ecosystem. (The document is available here). 

To provide ongoing industry leadership and support to the government’s ITP taskforce, AgriTechNZ is establishing Industry Reference Groups to consider the proposed High Impact Projects and workstreams, to recommend actions and, in selected cases, be the vehicle for implementation of initiatives.

Some of these groups are already partly or fully formed, based on existing work and engagement. AgriTechNZ is now helping to further develop the scope, purpose and structures for these groups to enable even greater industry engagement.

The domains for these Industry Reference Groups include:

  • Robotics, Automation & Sensing Academy 
  • Farm2050 Nutrients Initiative 
  • Global Alliances & Positioning
  • IP Commercialisation 
  • Capital & Investment 
  • Data Interoperability & Regulation 
  • Skills & Workforce 

We will be seeking expressions of interest from members to contribute to these projects and workstreams as the terms of reference are completed for each, individually. We expect the first of these to be completed in the next few weeks.

These opportunities will be highlighted in further communications, webinars and meetings. In the meantime, we welcome your comments and input, and look forward to the shared beneficial outcomes of these collaborations.

Ngā mihi

Kenneth Irons
Agritech New Zealand

PS: MBIE is currently consulting on a Consumer Data Right for greater choice and control over data. Join AgriTechNZ and Digital Identity NZ for a member discussion later this month. More information coming soon, but please contact us to express your interest.

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Posted in AgriTechNZ News