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Day 1 at Irish Plough. Major opportunities emerge for the New Zealand agritech sector

Monday, September 16th, 2019

Photo above: Nick Swallow, Trade Commissioner, United Kingdom and Ireland; Peter Wren-Hilton, Agritech New Zealand; Brad Burges, NZ Ambassador to New Zealand; Jacqui Wren-Hilton, Agritech New Zealand; Pat Breen, Ireland’s Minister of Data Protection; Peter Ryan, Ireland Ambassador to New Zealand.

The New Zealand agritech delegation arrived at the Carlow showground this morning fully prepared. The weather we were told would be ‘soft’. That’s Irish for grey and damp. It wasn’t. 100,000 visitors on Day 1 are down to T-shirts and hats. 30+ kiwis are amongst them. It’s hot!

That’s not however 100% reflective of the mood amongst farmers here.

I was in Ireland for the Agtech Nexus Europe conference in December. Then, the ‘B’ word was the major concern. With 31 October approaching and Westminster in meltdown, it’s still a major topic of conversation. This week however, there is a significant focus on another “B”. Beef. The price at the farm gate is severely depressed and there is a major dispute between processors and farmers.

Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed warned yesterday that ‘real self-harm’ is being inflicted on the beef industry sector. At Plough, this discontent is evident. Its international reputation is on the line. I hope that Beef & Lamb in New Zealand is taking note.

Dairy is a totally different proposition. Since the abolition of EU quotas five years ago, herd size and production has increased significantly. It’s a trend that’s likely to continue over the next 3-5 years. This is providing major opportunities for NZ agritech. The traditional Irish dairy farm has been family owned. Maybe 30 hectares in size with a herd count of perhaps 70. Today that herd size is closer to 120-130. Milk production is up 100% in 10 years. Sound familiar? It means that dairy farmers are now looking to automation to improve everything from the performance of the milk shed to animal health monitoring. EU environmental standards are tough, so addressing the impact of intensification is high on the mind of farmers. NZ agritech sectors in this space; please take note.

Several already are. New Zealand agritech companies exhibiting at Plough this year include Abacusbio, Figured, Gallagher, Hansen, Kaiwaka, LIC, Rezare, Saber, Techion, Tru-Test, Waikato Milking Systems & Yardmaster. It’s great to see this level of engagement on the ground. Interest here in New Zealand’s agritech sector is high. We have a great reputation for nutritious food production and many of the Irish farmers I have spoken to over the past 48 hours have spent time in NZ. This week is providing these farmers with a glimpse of some of the tech that makes this possible.

New Zealand’s Ambassador to Ireland, Brad Burgess, ormally opened the New Zealand Pavilion this afternoon and a good number of Agritech New Zealand partners and friends joined us for the reception. They were not alone. A number of senior Irish government officials and business leaders also attended. It reflected the real potential for future collaboration between the two countries.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be joining Brad as we formally launch the New Zealand Agritech Story at an NZTE breakfast reception. If today is anything to go by, it’s going to be another busy one. I’ll report back via this website and our social media channels on developments. NZ agritech companies should take note. This is a serious conversation that is just staring. Agritech New Zealand intends to be a key part of that.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Join leading New Zealand agritech businesses, researchers and capability providers at the 2019 Irish National Ploughing Championships and UK Dairy Day.

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

Callaghan Innovation, in partnership with Agritech New Zealand and NZTE, is coordinating a mission around the 2019 Irish National Ploughing Championships and UK Dairy Day.

If you think National Fieldays is big, think again. The Irish National Ploughing Championships attracts over 300,000 visitors. With similar pastoral farming systems to New Zealand, I believe that Ireland offers huge commercial opportunity to kiwi agritech firms. I recognised this when I attended the Agtech Nexus Europe conference in Dublin in December. The same opportunity applies in the UK. Our comparative pastoral farming systems and yet different northern & southern hemispheres, provide a great platform for NZ agritech firms to conduct 12 month R&D and field trials across two growing seasons.

In September, this mission of New Zealand mid to late stage start-ups and mature businesses along with researchers and capability providers, will get a deep insight into both the UK and Ireland’s agri industries, research, innovation systems and channel partners.

This trip will also offer New Zealand companies and agencies a chance to showcase our abilities and technology.

As well as in-market visits and meetings, the mission will attend the 2019 Irish National Ploughing Championships – one of the largest agricultural exhibitions in Europe – and UK Dairy Day, a dedicated annual one-day event for the dairy industry featuring over 300 exhibitors demonstrations and seminars.

Those participating in the mission will benefit from the opportunity to:

  • Gain insights into the UK and Ireland’s agri industries, research, innovation systems and channel partners. 
  • Take part in UK in-market visits to the AgriEPI Centre and CIEL, and Hands Free Hectare, among others.
  • Take part in Ireland in-market visits to Origin Green, UCD Lyons Farm, and Teagasc, among others.
  • Network with Irish and UK agritech organisations and businesses.
  • Attend a pre-mission workshop in Auckland to prepare for the mission.
  • Gain specific advice and support on event, accommodation and flight bookings to ensure the mission stays connected, as well as transportation and logistics arrangements over the two weeks.
  • Enter the Ploughing International Innovation Awards.

To register for the mission, please complete this form by Friday 19 July.

Callaghan Innovation will co-fund a limited number of companies based on stage, strategy and suitability. Co-funding criteria is available on the registration form. 

Confirmation of your place on the mission is subject to Callaghan Innovation approval and availability. The mission will begin the evening of Sunday 8 September in London, UK and conclude on the evening of Friday 20 September in Dublin, Ireland.

For any questions prior to application or to discuss funding opportunities please contact: 

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

The New Zealand agritech delegation has returned from the US. What happens next?

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

On Friday morning, Jacqui and I were invited to a small ‘town hall’ event just outside Watsonville in Northern California. We joined 60+ local specialty crop growers listen to US Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue (pictured above) and Congressman Jimmy Panetta talk about the US Federal government’s support for the sector.

Questions from the floor covered the whole range of issues we had seen during the week. Labor (lack of & cost of); immigration policy, water & rural infrastructure including lack of broadband, climate change & public sector investment (lack of) into research.

My take? High value produce in Salinas Valley does not translate into high margin. Rising labor costs on the one hand and crazy pressure from retailers on the other are squeezing growers like never before. Whole crop varieties are shutting up shop. A number of major growers are moving their operations south (to Mexico in many cases). According to the CEO of Driscoll at the Forbes Live conference, strawberry growers, the largest single specialty crop variety in California might only have 5 years left. These folk are worried. Big time.

For New Zealand’s growing agritech sector, this environment offers huge opportunity. Our work in the field of robotics and automation was recognised by several speakers at the conference. On Wednesday morning, the New Zealand delegation was given a 90 minute slot to present to Board members of Western Growers, including its President, Tom Nassif. This session over-ran by 30. Automating many in-field processes is seen as a priority for Western Grower members. It is also one of ours.

Now as we arrive back in Aotearoa, we are planning our next steps. In the next 3-4 weeks this will include an all-day workshop at which we will download our learnings from the week. This will likely include identifying the specialty crops which offer the best opportunity for our tech to address.

The composition of the delegation means that a number of our universities, crown research institutes and industry players will collaborate together to make this happen. It maps one of Agritech New Zealand’s main purpose statements; to build export sales by connecting everyone and everything in the country’s agritech ecosystem.

Last week we saw the value of that in spades. New relationships were developed and a common resolve emerged. If New Zealand is to scale globally, it has to work together. The workshop later this month will translate that ambition into action.

It’s great to be back home. It’s now time to get this done.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

LIVE from Salinas, California: The New Zealand agritech delegation arrive to support US specialty crop growers address a major crisis

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Today a large delegation of experienced New Zealand agri robotic and automation researchers and entrepreneurs arrived in Salinas, Northern California. We are here to meet Agritech New Zealand partner, Western Growers, the largest producers of fresh produce in North America. 

That’s 50%+ of all fresh vegetables, 50%+ of all fresh fruits, 50%+ of all organics. This is big.

We are here to learn more about one of Western Grower members’ most significant challenges. Labour. Lack of and cost of. Whilst the US public focuses on the merits, or otherwise, of a Mexican wall, the sad reality for most North American farmers &  growers is that more Mexican farm labourers are returning home than heading north. The labour crisis here is real. And its costing growers. Big time.

I have worked for several months with the Agritech team at Callaghan Innovation (big nod to Nicky & Simon) to bring a large and experienced team of kiwi specialists to Salinas.  We have representatives from;

  • AgResearch
  • Agritech New Zealand
  • Auckland University
  • Callaghan Innovation
  • CR Automation
  • Figured
  • GPS-IT
  • Lincoln Agritech
  • Massey University
  • New Zealand Trade & Enterprise
  • Plant & Food Research
  • PlantTech
  • Robotics Plus
  • TracMap
  • Uniservices
  • Waikato University
  • Zespri

It’s a fantastic group. We are here for a week and we are here to get stuff done.

I am writing this post during our Monday (PST) lunchtime break. This morning we have been on-farm looking at three crops; Romaine, Lettuce & Broccoli. This afternoon we are joining the Western Growers Trial meeting here at the WG Innovation & Technology Center in Salinas. This is when we will discuss the opportunity for conducting field trials of NZ agritech on Western Grower properties. This is when the rubber really hits the road.

Western Growers provides a huge commercial pathway for New Zealand agritech in the global specialty crop market. For context, according to a report published by Persistence Market Research in March 2018, the global specialty crops market is expected to witness a CAGR of 3.7%. from a valuation of US$ 1,382.3 Bn in 2017, to touch a valuation of US$ 1,842.3 Bn by the end of 2025. That’s NZD 2.77 trillion. Go figure.

It’s a massive opportunity, but for US growers, it’s also a massive challenge. Margins in this sector are often in the 3%-5% range. That’s tops. Increasing labour costs are wiping this out. The need to automate on-farm processes, particularly the harvesting of crops, is therefore front & centre for these growers. And this is where this week’s New Zealand’s agri robotic and automation delegation come in.

Back in August last year, Agritech New Zealand & Western Growers signed a strategic partnership agreement. It was designed in part to address this challenge. In case you missed it, this is what Western Growers had to say about it on US TV:

Tomorrow, we are in the field again, this time in Watsonville talking to growers of strawberries and other berry products. A major outcome of these discussions is that the technologies that we are focusing on this week will help growers back home; kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty, apples in the Hawkes Bay and grapes in Marlborough. All suffer seasonal labour shortages and all will benefit from the increased application of on-farm and in-orchard harvesting automation.

This mission is one of the most significant I have been on. It’s not just about learning about real on-farm experience in a general sense. It’s about enabling New Zealand’s agritech sector to understand and address a very specific grower need. And to do so in a very big market.

We have a major week ahead.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

NZ tech companies should study the UN sustainable goals

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Auckland – Kiwi tech companies should study the United Nations sustainable development goals and position their solutions as ways to achieve them as there are millions of euros being invested in the next few years, leading New Zealand tech expert Graeme Muller says.

Muller has just returned from major global tech conferences in the Netherlands and also met Dutch government leaders.

Much of the talk was about the UN’s sustainable development goals, Muller says.

“These goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity and peace.

“New Zealand and the Netherlands both produce food and have a big focus on agritech, food quality and environmental sustainability. We will hear a lot more about the New Zealand agritech story during Agritech Unleashed at the national Fieldays.

“Both country’s governments are also trying to digitalise, break down internal silos, be more innovative and do more for people by leveraging smart technologies.

“The United Nations sustainable development goals are at the forefront of many people’s minds in the Netherlands. Every city is required to meet these goals and they are looking to tech to solve the problems.

“Kiwi tech companies would be advised to consider these goals too. We need to think globally and consider sustainable wellbeing issues in our approach to tech.

“Technology is now New Zealand’s fastest growing and third biggest industry and our tech companies and organisations have a chance to lead on this sustainable approach which is so strongly supported across Europe.

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which has been adopted by New Zealand and all other UN member states, provides a shared blueprint for prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. We need to act on these goals in New Zealand,” Muller says.

The goals are simply an urgent call for action by all countries in a global partnership. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education and spur economic growth, as well as tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

Across the world countries are looking to technology to deliver solutions to these big challenges.

For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Joint Statement from Agritech New Zealand and PAANZ

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

TAURANGA; 11 JUNE 2019: New Zealand’s leading independent organisations promoting the adoption and development of agri-technology – Agritech New Zealand ( and the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand ( are in discussions regarding a merger to form a single entity representing the entire agritech ecosystem in Aotearoa.

Since 2012, the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand has supported on-farm adoption of new technology through hosting field events, workshops and conferences around New Zealand. In the last year, Agritech New Zealand has raised the profile of New Zealand’s agritech strengths internationally and has attracted new capital investment and government policy focus.

Bringing together the real-world experiences of farmers and growers working to adopt new technology in their business, with a strong focus on supporting investment in, and development of, new agri-technology to improve primary production, would be a potent combination.

The executive committees of both organisations are excited at the potential to create a unified approach in the development and application of new high-tech capabilities for agriculture. They look forward to defining mutually agreeable terms for a merger that reflect the best interests of the existing members of each organisation.

Media contact details;

Roger Robson-Williams; Chair of the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand: 021 926210

Peter Wren-Hilton, Executive Director of Agritech New Zealand: 021 791120

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Join the Hon Damien O’Connor and Arama Kukutai as they talk about the importance of connected global capital at Agritech Unleashed on Thursday 13 June

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

For many early stage New Zealand agritech companies, securing connected global capital is a key ingredient to support scaling and growth.

At Agritech Unleashed, the Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture and Minister for Biosecurity, Food Safety, and Rural Communities and Arama Kukutai, Co-founder & Managing Director of San Diego-based Finistere Ventures will talk about the importance of connected capital and New Zealand’s opportunity to secure it.

Over the past 12 months, several early stage New Zealand agritech companies have secured offshore funding. These include Biolumic, Robotics Plus, Halter and most recently Invert Robotics. Several offshore funds have been active in this space. They include Finistere Ventures, Innovation Endeavor, Rabobank & Canopy Rivers. Directors & partners from all four of these global investors are attending the Agritech Unleashed event at National Fieldays.

‘Connected capital’ is more than just cash. It’s about connecting into a wider ecosystem of potential partners. The Farm2050 model epitomises this. With major global agribusinesses such as Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, Corteva, Nutrien, Mars & PepsiCo on board as partners, the opportunity to engage and grow with these players is real. Just ask Warren at Biolumic.

The panel discussion includes directors from Rabobank’s global agri fund (flying in from the Netherlands) and two major kiwi recipients of connected capital; Biolumic and Zeakal. They will talk about their own story and how connected capital has positively impacted their business.

The New Zealand Connected Agritech Capital session takes place in the Bledisloe Function Centre at Mystery Creek on Thursday 13 June from 10.15am – 11.00am.

Access to this exclusive session is strictly by ticket only. You can register for a (free) ticket by logging onto the Agritech Unleashed ticketing system here:

If you have an interest in this space, perhaps looking to either raise capital or as an existing investor, this is one event you cannot afford to miss.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Major International Speakers announced for Agritech Unleashed.

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Agritech New Zealand is delighted to announce its line-up of major international speakers for Agritech Unleashed – the one-day innovation event taking place during National Fieldays 2019.

Created in association with NZ National Fieldays Society and generously sponsored by the Ministry of Primary Industries, Agritech Unleashed is taking place in the Bledisloe Function Centre at Mystery Creek on Thursday 13 June.

The Agritech New Zealand Invitation Special!

On 23 May 2018, Agritech New Zealand was formally launched at the ’10 billion mouths’ conference in Tauranga. To celebrate our first anniversary today, we are offering readers of this post, the opportunity to apply for a free ticket to attend the Agritech Unleashed event.

This is an exceptional opportunity to hear from some of the most influential players in the global agritech & agribusiness sector. There are 5 key sessions during the event. To reserve your seat, please select your chosen session here.  If you have not yet purchased your National Fieldays ticket, please do so here

The Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture and Minister for Biosecurity, Food Safety, and Rural Communities will be speaking at Agritech Unleashed. The Minister will be joined by a number of other high-profile domestic speakers.

This post however is focusing on some of the major international speakers and delegates who have travelled to New Zealand for the event.

Our international speakers include;

Alexey Rostapshov: Head of Digital Innovation, John Deere

Based in San Francisco, as Head of Digital Innovation at John Deere, Alexey has been tasked with building the world’s leading digital platform for precision agriculture. Previously, as co-founder & COO at Mavrx, an aerial imagery & data analytics firm serving the agriculture industry, Alexey built a diverse team that designed and scaled the largest global imaging network dedicated to crop monitoring (covering 250 million acres using light aircraft & UAVs).

Arama Kukutai: Co-founder & Managing Director of Finistere Ventures

Arama is of Ngati Maniapoto, Tainui and Te Aupouri descent on his father’s side and spent his formative years in South Taranaki’s dairy sector. Today, based in San Diego, Arama co-founded Finistere Ventures and has led the creation of Finistere’s global network which includes offices in Tel Aviv, San Diego and Silicon Valley, and Dublin, Ireland. Finistere has invested in several New Zealand agritech companies including Biolumic, Zeakal, CropX and most recently Invert Robotics.

Richard O’Gorman: Director, Rabobank Food & Agriculture Innovation Fund

Based in the Netherlands, Richard joined Rabo Private Equity in 2010 and focuses on Rabobank’s international F&A venture capital and private equity activities. Richard serves on several Investment Committees and Advisory Boards for Rabobank’s portfolio of F&A funds and is closely involved in a range of Rabobank F&A innovation activities currently being carried out.

Michael Levin: Founder & Managing Director, Germin8

Based in Chicago, Michael founded Germin8 Ventures, which is a venture capital fund seeking to improve the global food system and is innovative in its own right, providing both investment and strategic resources to the exceptional founders of transformative food and agritech companies around the world. Michael oversees Germin8’s investing and operations, as well as actively participates on the boards of invested companies.

Sara Ahmed-Holman: Investment Analyst, Innovation Endeavor & Farm2050

Innovation Endeavors was founded in 2010 by Eric Schmidt and Dror Berman.  Innovation Endeavor’s investment and portfolio support teams are located in three major regions of innovation: Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, and New York City. Based in Palo Alto, Sara co-wrote the Farm2050 Nutrient white paper and will be keynoting this session at Agritech Unleashed.

Han Chen: CEO of Zeakal

ZeaKal, Inc. is a next generation trait technology company. Its focus is on increasing the photosynthetic capacity of plants — allowing crops to harvest more sunlight and carbon dioxide and translating it into more grains, seeds and fiber. Originally, much of the science came out of AgResearch in New Zealand. Today, based in San Diego, Han Chen has just signed a major global R&D partnership with Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of Dow DuPont.

Our international speakers are part of a larger delegation of international guests that Agritech New Zealand, in conjunction with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, is hosting. It is providing New Zealand’s agritech sector with the opportunity to build deeper engagement opportunities with key global players.

We hope you can join us at the Bledisloe Function Centre on Thursday 13 June.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Agritech New Zealand & Callaghan Innovation to lead major agritech delegation to the US next month

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

At the end of next month, Agritech New Zealand & Callaghan Innovation are supporting a major kiwi agritech delegation attend the Forbes Live conference in Salinas, California.

A core focus of the delegation, which reflects its make-up, is on how New Zealand robotic, automation & sensing technologies can assist US growers address their single most important challenge. Labor. Lack of and cost of.

In August last year, Agritech New Zealand signed a partnership agreement with Western Growers, the largest producer of fresh produce in North America. Their members account for over 50% of all fruit and vegetable production. At the time of the signing, we were supporting another delegation of New Zealand agritech delegates as they took part in the 2018 Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program. In Central Valley, Northern California, we saw at first hand, on a tomato and water melon farm, the challenge. These farmers were hurting.

Since then, the situation has seriously deteriorated. Whole specialty crops are now at risk of either shutting down or moving out of the US. Mexico and other countries south are the major destination. So the sense of urgency is real and the opportunity for New Zealand agritech experts is now.

The first two days of our week in Salinas will involve meeting key representatives from different major grower associations. This will provide the delegation with a more in-depth understanding of the challenge and the core crops at risk. At the Forbes Live conference, we will be able to meet a number of the growers in person to better understand the challenge on-farm. I attended this event last year. It was one of the most productive US-based agtech-focused conferences I have attended.

It promises to be a hugely valuable week and Agritech New Zealand is delighted once again to be working with Callaghan Innovation to make this happen. When we return to New Zealand, we will sit down with delegation members to attempt to create an all of NZ approach to address the challenge.

Building new commercial pathways for New Zealand’s agritech expertise is a key purpose of Agritech New Zealand. Next month’s Salinas engagement is testament to that.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Government & industry are working together to build New Zealand’s agritech sector

Monday, April 1st, 2019

This guest post has been written by David Downs, the New Zealand ‘All of Government’ agritech taskforce lead.

Its clear why Agritech is part of New Zealand’s future, as well as our past and present. The first ever innovation in New Zealand related to agritech, with Māori settlers creating a mechanism to elongate the growing day by building small stone walls around the kumara pits, and burying stone chips in the soil to soak up the sun’s rays. The success of our primary production in New Zealand is due in large part of the agricultural and technological innovations which allowed for higher productivity and superior quality. Yes, there is still work to do with ensuring our practices are sustainable and environmentally friendly in some areas, but overall our agritech industry is a source of great comparative advantage for New Zealand.

So it’s no surprise that the government wants to join with industry to super-charge the sector. Ministers have asked officials (bureaucrats like me) to work out ways that we can tune the various levers of government intervention to assist agritech companies to grow bigger, better and faster – not just in New Zealand (assisting with the productivity of our agriculture, horticulture and aquiculture sectors) but also in terms of exports. Somewhat surprisingly, New Zealand exports of agritech have been almost flat for 5 years, which doesn’t accurately demonstrate the potential for the sector.

A couple of weeks ago, representatives from 5 government agencies joined with the industry group Agritech New Zealand, and a number of industry representatives, (pictured above) to plot our joint action plan for government and the sector. Our plan is to work together on initiatives which can accelerate the growth of the sector and the companies within it. We looked at things like skills, management capability and expertise. We looked at science and R&D focus, and how we can line up innovation towards a clear market demand. We looked at the levers of government incentives, funding and policy. At this stage the action plan is still in draft, but significant progress was made and we are on track to draft a national strategy for the sector, along with a clear set of tactics, in the next few months.

With innovation a core part of the kiwi DNA, and the Agritech space a clear opportunity for New Zealand to succeed, it’s good to see government working in partnership with industry on growing New Zealand’s agritech sector.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Post evokeAG. What next for NZ-Australia agritech collaboration?

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

The applause is over, the bunting and the red carpets have been put in store, and the over 1,200 delegates who attended last week’s evokeAG conference in Melbourne have returned to their day jobs.

Only 358 days then to go until the next evokeAG meetup. Same city. Same venue. 18-19 February 2020. Except that Agritech New Zealand does not plan to wait that long to build a more collaborative bridge with our Tasman neighbours.

What we learnt last week was that both New Zealand and Australia’s agritech sectors share some of the same challenges. Whilst we may occasionally display a competitive spirit, far more unites than divides. We both suffer from the impact of distance to market (Perth is a long way from Sydney) and attracting global capital to our respective sectors has been a challenge. During the NZ delegation’s field trips to several farms last week, we witnessed at first hand the effect of climate change and the impact of extreme weather events. Lack of rain (drought for an extended period) has hit Australian dairy farmers hard, meaning that Australia’s dairy output this year will be 7% down on last year. They are doing it tough out there.

What delegates from both countries agreed on was that technology and innovation has a key role to help farmers and growers address these, and other major global challenges. Issues such as sustainable farming, environmental impact, animal welfare and a license to operate are not restricted to New Zealand. They are commonly shared across borders and across continents.

One of Agritech New Zealand’s immediate challenges is identifying just who actually represents Australia’s agritech ecosystem. Unlike New Zealand, Australia has a federal & state system of government and collaboration does not always appear to be a core part of the DNA. I’m just putting this out there.

There are however some organisations who appear to be working towards building an ‘all-of-Australia’ agritech community and it’s these organisations we are currently reaching out to. The aim is to develop a genuine platform for significant trans-Tasman collaboration. These include the organisers of last week’s evokeAG conference, AgriFutures Australia, as well as two prominent agritech ecosystem builders; Agthentic and the Bridge Hub. Check out Agthentic’s Sarah Nolet post-evokeAG blog post here.

In short, we don’t plan to wait until February next year to continue the conversation. This process will start next month. My hope and genuine expectation is that by the time the next evokeAG conference takes place, so will the first major trans-Tasman collaborative agritech initiative.

It’s a significant challenge. Together, we can deliver.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

NZ agritech the big hit at Melbourne’s EvokeAg event (NZ firm wins pitch competition)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Melbourne – Almost 100 Kiwi agritech specialists, entrepreneurs, agribusiness leaders and support agencies have joined 1000 delegates at the international EvokeAg food & farm futures conference in Melbourne this week.

Making up almost 10 percent of the attendees at this globally focused conference shows the significance for agritech for New Zealand and its future, AgritechNZ executive director Peter Wren-Hilton said from Melbourne today.

“The exciting thing for New Zealand is our alignment with addressing many of the big global challenges for feeding the world while not destroying the planet.

“The conference has also had a high presence of international investors who all noted that we have to be patient with agritech investments as new agri-technologies such as alternative proteins, on-farm robotics, vertical farming and nutrient management systems all take time to build.

“Several investors said the New Zealand agritech market is coming of age. It is a great test market for addressing global farming challenges such as nutrient management and cleaning water ways, dealing with labour shortages and producing healthier food. Yet more needs to be done to help Kiwi agritech companies go global faster.”

There is a wealth of potential solutions for global markets locked up in NZ crown research institutes (CRIs) and universities, Wren-Hilton says. Potentially, with better incentive structures and better connections with smart global capital, New Zealand can accelerate the conversion of this IP into value for the New Zealand economy.

“Among the many Kiwi attendees at the event were Kiwi agritech firms looking to raise funding. Wine Grenade, CertusBIO and Hot Lime Labs have all made the Pitch Tent Finals competing against the best in the world to raise funds by pitching to the VC firms at the conference.

“CertusBio is another great NZTech story. Their chief executive Matthew Jones this week won the pitch tent investment ready pitch competition at EvokeAg against agritech firms from around the world.

“Bringing together our globally successful agri sector with our fast-growing tech and innovation sector is opening up a global agritech investment market worth more than $US7.1 billion. New Zealand’s future can be about not only feeding 40 million people around the world, but also selling the systems that help feed 10 billion people.,” Wren-Hilton says.

AgritechNZ is helping build a world class agritech ecosystem but New Zealand needs to integrate agriculture and technology faster to strengthen its primary export sector.

As the world’s demand for food increases with its ever-growing population, New Zealand can expand its primary sector further by focusing on producing higher value produce and agri-systems for the world.

For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188

Posted in AgriTechNZ News