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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

New Zealand prepares to take large delegation of agritech companies to evokeAG

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Updated 17 February: With less than 24 hours to go, almost 90 kiwis have now registered to attend the evokeAG conference. This is the largest single delegation of kiwi agritech delegates headed offshore for a major conference.

In less than two weeks, 60+ representatives from New Zealand’s agritech sector will have arrived in Melbourne for the inaugural evokeAG conference.

The conference has been organised by AgriFutures Australia, yet it has a strong trans-Tasman flavour. When John Harvey, AgriFutures Managing Director visited New Zealand in the middle of last year, the benefits of broadening the conference’s appeal became apparent. Today, the conference features several New Zealand speakers, with three early stage kiwi agritech companies pitching for investment capital from a number of global venture firms in the aptly named ‘Pitch Tent’ session.

The good news is that NZ Inc. will also be in town.

The New Zealand delegation is being supported by Callaghan Innovation, NZTE & MBIE. It’s great to see government agencies coming together to add real weight to the opportunity. Representatives from both MPI and NZVIF are also participating in the programme.

As part of the delegation’s preparation, Callaghan Innovation is hosting a one-day workshop next Tuesday. It will provide delegates with insights and thinking from some of New Zealand’s agritech business leaders who have already made the journey across the Tasman. A similar one-day workshop held last August prior to the 2018 Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program proved to be an invaluable opportunity to prepare the delegation for their time in the US.

To provide more value to the kiwis traveling to Melbourne, a new Agritech Immersion Program has been established with the support of Invest Victoria. This will see NZ delegates taking part in farm visits as well as meeting different local agritech players in the two days around the conference. Special mention and thanks to Simon Yarrow at Callaghan Innovation and Angela Traill from NZTE who have coordinated this programme.

I am fortunate to have sat on the evokeAG conference steering committee since the middle of last year. Working with the event organisers & other steering committee members has provided me with a personal insight into some of the real opportunity that increased collaboration with the Australian agritech ecosystem can bring.

Agritech New Zealand is proud to be associated with the evokeAG conference. You will be able to find us in the NZ Corporate Lounge, adjacent to main conference hall at the Royal Exhibition Building. During the two-day event (19 & 20 February), we will be posting regular updates via this website and on our social media platforms. It’s going to be a fascinating week and one which will lift the profile of some of New Zealand’s most exciting and promising agritech companies.

Building bridges and helping scale our emerging agritech ecosystem in international markets is a core part of Agritech New Zealand’s DNA. evokeAG is the first major highlight of an exciting program of events for New Zealand’s agritech sector in 2019. We hope to meet you there.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

New Zealand to take ownership of the global ‘Disruptive Nutrient Technology’ initiative

Monday, January 28th, 2019

I have just returned from the US where I spent valuable time with a number of Agritech New Zealand’s key partners in Farm2050. The major purpose of the visit was to discuss our preparation for the 3-year initiative based on identifying disruptive technologies around nutrients.

For context, fertilisers, (nutrients such as N, P, K or Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash and compounds thereof) are one of the single largest input spends in pastoral farming systems. It is estimated less than 50 percent of the immense volume of fertiliser applied in New Zealand and around the world is utilised by the targeted planted crops and fields to which they are applied.  The balance is volatilised or is transmitted into the water table and often from there into steam /river/ estuary systems with negative environmental impacts.

Last week, I sat down with innovation leaders from a number of the world’s largest agribusinesses; Bayer CropScience, Corteva, Syngenta, and Nutrien. We discussed the impact of nutrient application and measurement from two perspectives; plant absorption efficiency and environmental impact. For farmers and growers in New Zealand, both are key metrics. My question and the question raised by others was whether existing practice is fit for purpose. What opportunities are there to test emerging technologies, as well as develop new technologies to address these two critical issues? These questions have become the main drivers for this global initiative.

As Farm2050’s first country partner, New Zealand has a pivotal role to play. We have advanced farming systems and deep domain knowledge. We produce some of the finest agricultural product in the world. Yet our farmers and growers are well aware of the regulatory environment in which they now operate. Consumer concerns about environmental impact, negative media comment and government regulation are all affecting sentiment within the primary sector.

Farm2050’s global nutrient initiative is designed to map talk with action to support our farmers and growers.

What does this mean in practise? As a first step, Farm2050, in conjunction with Agritech New Zealand, will work with New Zealand farmers, leading ag co-operatives and government to establish field trials to test select, emerging nutrient technologies. We plan to engage with New Zealand’s major existing players in this space, as well as early stage agritech companies seeking to address these issues.

There is also great science, often locked up in our universities and crown research institutes. Leveraging these combined assets can help New Zealand’s agritech sector take a global lead in improving both plant absorption efficiency, as well as reducing environmental impact, through the smarter use of nutrients. That was the commitment I made last week to Farm2050’s global agribusiness and venture partners in the US. It was a commitment they agreed to support.

Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing a detailed white paper that will outline now only the key objectives of the initiative but also the steps by which the process will be managed. I am also looking forward to announcing some of the globally recognised team members that will be working with Agritech New Zealand to help scale this initiative in New Zealand.

As New Zealand’s government sets out its targets for reducing carbon emissions and improving water quality, this Farm2050 initiative will go a long way to supporting that ambition. For Agritech New Zealand and its members, it’s a very exciting way to kick off 2019.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Building a collaborative New Zealand agritech framework with the UK

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

24 hours ago, the UK Parliament rejected Theresa May’s Brexit ‘deal’ with the European Union. A few hours later, I sat down with Laura Clarke, the British High CommissionertoNew Zealand and her team at the British Consulate in Auckland. The business of business goes on.

Whatever the final outcome of the Brexit story, the need to produce more nutritious food sustainably is as important in Britain as it is in New Zealand. Sustainability in this instance has two meanings. Sustainability for the environment and sustainability for producers’ incomes to continue farming.

In March, a delegation from Innovate UK will be visiting the country to learn more about ruminant livestock and some aspects of our horticulture sector. The delegation will be visiting Central District Fieldays in Palmerston North and will be using their time here to speak to industry representatives and NZ government agencies.

In June, the UK DIT (Department of International Trade) is planning to bring a large delegation of agritech-related businesses over to National Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Yesterday, we discussed areas of common interest to help identify New Zealand farmer & growers needs. Could some of these inbound companies provide solutions to address these? It is clear that the UK has undertaken some significant research into our sector. Identifying potential synergies was a key theme for the meeting.

One underlying challenge facing UK farmers is the future of subsidies. For a number of years, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has supported farming sectors across Europe with subsidies. CAP is no small potatoes (pardon the pun). It accounts for about 38% of the entire EU budget. Given New Zealand’s decision to abolish all farming subsidies back in 1984, the UK is keen to learn from some of the hard lessons learnt here. This discussion provides on-going and future opportunities for New Zealand’s agritech sector; these can be significant.

For some context here, last month I attended the Agtech Nexus Europe conference in Dublin. There, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, provided an insight into some future thinking of such funding. It was clear that whether the UK is inside or outside the EU, the level of CAP subsidies, going forward, is going to drop. This will therefore remain an underlying challenge for UK (and EU) farmers and an opportunity for some of the innovation, technology & IP that New Zealand’s agritech sector has developed.

The discussions with the team at UK DIT are ongoing. We are looking at ways in which we can build a collaborative framework that will not only support our respective agritech sectors, but also provide NZ & UK farmers and growers with the tools necessary to produce more nutritious food sustainably.

The key takeaway I took away from yesterday’s meeting is that the UK is still open for business. Whilst politicians in Westminster will no doubt prove to be a distraction over the coming weeks, and perhaps months, the needs of UK farmers will not change.

A bilateral approach can help address these and the time to act is now. Yesterday’s meeting was just one step in that process. The business of business goes on.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Global Investors look to NZ agritech to develop Disruptive Technologies in Nutrients

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

On 31 August, Farm2050, the global collective of leading agritech venture funds and corporate agribusinesses, selected New Zealand as its first country partner as a first step towards creating an ecosystem that will allow Kiwi agritech companies to scale in a non-linear way.

Since then, Agritech New Zealand has been working closely with the Farm2050 collective to identify strategies to address some of the really big challenges facing both New Zealand and worldwide agriculture. Following recent discussions, we are therefore delighted to advise that Innovation Endeavors and Finistere Ventures have decided to collaborate on leading the first major Farm2050 project focused on disruptive technologies in nutrients, both from a standpoint of application, measurement and efficiency, as well as novel nutrient technologies such as microbiome/soil health technologies. This will include accelerating trials around nutrient measurement, new products and methods of delivery as well as approaches to managing and mitigating environmental impacts such as runoff.

From Agritech New Zealand’s perspective, this initiative addresses some of the key issues facing the country’s primary sector. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing further detail around this first project and invite New Zealand research organisations, government agencies and the private sector to engage in shaping its scope and focus, as well as participating in its execution. Working directly with globally connected capital and some of the largest international agritech businesses will enable New Zealand’s agritech community to accelerate this activity in ways not seen before.

As part of our wider Farm2050 strategy, Agritech New Zealand will be organising field trials and partnering with industry stakeholders to work on specific areas of need, initially focusing on nutrients, automation and the creation of a “digital academy”.

On a recent conference call with the collective, I spoke to the innovation leads of many of the world’s largest agritech firms. These included Bayer CropScience, Syngenta & Corteva. Scaling New Zealand’s agritech sector with connected capital and access to these multinational partners is critical if we are going to not only contribute to feeding 10 billion mouths by 2050, but in ways that are sustainable and friendly to the environment.

Identifying New Zealand disruptive technologies in nutrients is a great place to start.

Imaged sourced: Chesapeake Bay Program

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Huge potential identified for Kiwi AgriTech

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Innovative AgriTech offers enormous potential for the New Zealand economy says, NZTech CEO and Agritech New Zealand Chair, Graeme Muller. 

Graeme was one of 30 New Zealand delegates attending the Silicon Valley Forum AgriTech immersion programme in San Jose, California.    

Speaking to RNZ’s Midday Rural News last week from California, he said AgriTech is potentially New Zealand’s biggest opportunity for the future. 
He explains why
here.

Historically, the global agricultural industry has been slow in its uptake of technology, but this is changing as it looks to innovate and solve significant problems.  These include rising labour shortages, environmental pressures, adverse weather events and feeding a global 10 billion population by 2050.On return to New Zealand, Muller said closer Californian ties are crucial to help produce a thriving economy. 

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Posted in AgriTechNZ News

The importance of sharing New Zealand’s compelling agritech story offshore

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Since I returned from San Jose last week, there has been quite a bit of talk about the impact that New Zealand’s delegation made during this year’s Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program.

Some of it came from partners in NZ. This year however, I’ve received emails and invitations to connect from a wide range of countries including Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Brazil, the US and Canada. It’s clear from the content of those messages that the New Zealand delegation delivered.

Where to next? As those of you who might have read these blog posts before will know, Agritech New Zealand signed two important Strategic Partnership Agreements last week; one with North America’s largest growers of fresh produce, Western Growers and one with Farm2050, the global consortium of leading agri-focused venture firms and major agribusinesses.

Presenting the New Zealand agritech story in a compelling and coherent way was an important backdrop to those discussions. As a country renowned for its high quality agricultural produce and wide-ranging and sophisticated farming systems, it’s important that we understand how to tell and share our agritech story.

As New Zealand’s agritech sector continues to reach out to international markets, it’s therefore great to acknowledge that this work has been recognised by government. Right now, NZTech is working with the team at NZTE and New Zealand Story to help curate the message. Agritech New Zealand is aligning itself to this work and we are encouraging others in the sector to do the same.

In San Jose, the theme of the New Zealand panel presentation at last Thursday’s conference was ‘How can NZ agritech help feed the world’. So much of our domestic focus is on producing high quality food to feed 40 million people around the world, we sometimes forget that this accounts for only around 0.5% of the global population. Our tech however can help other nations increase the production of their food needs in much more sustainable ways. By doing so, not only do we increase New Zealand’s agritech export sales, we also help the world feed the remaining 99.5%.

This was the message that resonated at the conference. By focusing on the really big picture, the delegates from many countries recognised our point of difference. Nicky Molloy from Callaghan Innovation talked about Kaitiaki, ‘we are guardians of people, place & planet’. The kiwi panel talked about Ingenuity, ‘Challenging the status quo with original and bold solutions’ and Integrity, ‘We come from a good place. We say what we do’. New Zealand’s delegation stood tall and proud in San Jose. The world saw and understood. It’s now time to press ahead with Āwhina ki te whangai i te ao.  

It’s time for our tech to ‘help feed the world’.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Creating Global connections

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Earlier this week, I returned from the 2018 Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program where I was joined by more than 30 other kiwi agritech innovators, researchers and investors. We spent four days visiting farms, agritech hubs and learning about the significant challenges that US agriculture faces. A key takeaway from last week’s program was that New Zealand agritech competes with the best. This was confirmed during our delegation’s debrief; we had seen very little that we had not experienced at home.  

While in California, Agritech New Zealand signed two major Strategic Partnership Agreements.  
The first with Western Growers, North America’s largest producer of fresh produce (vegetables, fruit and organics). The second with Farm2050, a collective of the world’s largest agritech focused venture funds and agribusinesses. Although these agreements are not directly connected, their outcomes certainly are! They provide New Zealand agritech businesses looking to enter the vast US market with;

  • access to globally connected capital through the visibility generated by the Farm2050 collective.
  • access to a ‘landing pad’ at the Western Growers Technology & Innovation Center in Salinas.
  • access to farms, ranches and orchards across the USA.
  • access to major potential agribusiness partners to trial or license New Zealand agritech.

Later this month, I am meeting Ministers Damien O’Connor and David Parker to discuss how Government can help support and facilitate the opportunities that these agreements generate. To further share the benefits of these agreements with our ecosystem, we are planning a roadshow throughout New Zealand during spring. Event dates will be posted on our relaunched website soon.

Closer to home, I have joined the steering committee for AgriFutures Australia’s conference, evokeAG , 19-20 February, 2019 in Melbourne. The event is being positioned as a Trans-Tasman initiative and a number of New Zealand speakers and presenters are expected to take part.  Watch this space for more information!

Locally, Agritech New Zealand has been fulfilling its mandate to bring together ‘everyone and everything’ in the country’s rapidly growing agritech community. Representatives from PAANZ, the Sprout Accelerator, Blinc (formerly known as the Lincoln Hub) and NZTE have joined the organisation’s Executive Council. View its full membership here.

Building a strong and globally competitive New Zealand agritech sector remains a core driver of this organisation.  The new agreements are testament to that and over the coming weeks I expect to be able to announce more major initiatives.  This is a fantastic time to be part of our primary and tech industries. By working together, I firmly believe we can make a difference.

Ngā mihi

Peter Wren-Hilton
Executive Director

Canterbury Tech Summit – Next week!

Upstarters – Share our tech story

Early bird tickets are now available for evokeAG , 19-20 February, 2019 in Melbourne. Conversations include AgData, AI, food provenance, robotic farming, new value chains and more.  Learn more.

Watch Hank Giclas, Senior Vice President, Science, Technology and Strategic Planning at Western Growers discuss New Zealand agritech.

Discover the practical applications of Blockchain technology. Blockworks is 12 October in Auckland.

Join the New Zealand Cyber Security Summit on 18 October in Wellington for more on fighting the next generation of cyber attack.

Attend NZTE’s Export Essentials Workshops, held throughout New Zealand until November.  Learn how to select a market, find channel partners, create a unique value proposition and plan successful market entry.

Complete the New Zealand IoT Alliance’s survey here to help create a clear IoT device certification pathway.  Also, help local tech companies grow by completing the2018 Market Measures survey.

Save these 2019 event dates; Tech Marketers conference on 28 February, AI-Day on 28 March and Techweek 20-26 May.

Have you been forwarded this newsletter?  Receive your own copy.  As we are a membership funded organisation, please learn more about joining us.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Closer Californian ties crucial for NZ tech growth

Saturday, September 1st, 2018

San Jose, California – Leading New Zealand tech expert Graeme Muller arrived back home from Silicon Valley today convinced New Zealand needs closer tech ties with Californian to help produce a thriving Kiwi economy.

Muller, chief executive of NZTech, was part of a large New Zealand contingent which has been engaging with leading US agribusinesses and Silicon Valley tech firms to learn about US agritech opportunities.

The United States has played a big role in trailblazing technology such as giant online retailers, social media apps and the growth of the cloud, Muller says.

“We all know that Silicon Valley is the leading technology hotspot in the world, so it was exciting and historic that Agritech New Zealand signed two landmark agreements while in the Valley.

“One with the giant of fresh produce, Western Growers, whose members provide more than half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including nearly half of America’s fresh organic produce. The other with Farm 2050, a collective of the global leading agri-venture firms and agribusinesses focused on accelerating innovation in the agritech sector.

“These partnerships will substantially speed up growth of agritech in New Zealand and will open the doors for New Zealand agritech companies to enter the US market, to access agri investors and for US agritech startups to access the New Zealand market.

“In California the farmers and producers have very similar challenges to Kiwi farmers and producers, so this agreement presents an enormous opportunity for the New Zealand tech and agricultural sectors.

“Agritech New Zealand and other stakeholders across the New Zealand agri community are working hard together to build a world class agritech ecosystem but New Zealand needs to accelerate the integration of agriculture and technology 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 being more productive and by focusing on producing higher value produce for the world.

“Combining two of New Zealand’s leading sectors, agriculture and technology, shows just how we can improve New Zealand farming, food production and health while also growing our exports. We are on the cusp of some massive and exciting tech changes in our lives.”

Muller says New Zealand is achieving good agritech export growth rates relative to many nations, with an estimated $1.3 billion agritech exported in 2017. Global agritech investment is also expanding rapidly, with venture capital investment in agritech firms in 2017 reaching US$1.7 billion and looking to exceed US$2 billion this year.

The New Zealand tech sector is the country’s third largest and fastest growing export sector, worth over $6.3 billion in 2016 and employing more than six percent of the New Zealand workforce.

For further information contact Make Lemonade media specialist Kip Brook on 0275 030188

Graeme Muller

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Western Growers Partners with Agritech New Zealand to Connect Global AgTech Markets

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018
Dennis Donohue, Head of the Western Growers Technology & Innovation Center and Peter Wren-Hilton, Executive Director of Agritech New Zealand

I’m delighted to able to announce that Agritech New Zealand has signed a significant MOU with Western Growers, the largest producers of fresh produce in North America.

The agreement addresses some of the significant challenges that New Zealand agritech companies have faced when entering the US market. Where to land? Who to speak to? How to validate tech in-market and on-farm? This Agreement answers these questions.

Today, the 30+ New Zealand delegates attending the 2018 Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program & Conference are visiting the Western Growers Technology & Innovation Center in Salinas. It’s a place I have been visiting regularly over the past three years as the relationship with Western Growers has grown. Several of the delegates today are already discussing how their businesses and entities can leverage the Agreement to establish a more formal presence within the US market.

Yesterday, we visited Fresno and the Central Valley here in Northern California. We saw at first hand the scale of the region’s agricultural sector. We also experienced some of its challenges: Water, labor & lack of automation. These are challenges that New Zealand’s agritech sector players are uniquely qualified to address.

This is not a one-way agreement. It includes a provision to enable US-based agritech businesses to establish a presence in New Zealand to continue R&D during the northern hemisphere ‘off-season’. This is designed to enable two-way tech transfer between both countries.

Most programs of this type end after a week and everyone heads home to ‘business as usual’. For the delegates in Salinas today, the signing of this agreement has changed all that. This is the start of an exciting new journey and a significant opportunity that Agritech New Zealand will share with the rest of the country’s agritech sector on our return to Aotearoa.

The Media Release in full:

SALINAS, CA, USA (30 September 2018) – Western Growers (WG) has formalized a new strategic partnership with Agritech New Zealand to strengthen, share and accelerate the development of agricultural technologies, as well as help businesses in both countries access U.S. and New Zealand agriculture markets.

“We are currently facing a myriad of issues that are severely impacting agriculture and the production of food globally,” said Hank Giclas, Western Growers’ senior vice president, strategic planning, science & technology. “Building a two-way bridge for agricultural technology will result in international collaboration where we can create, transfer and share knowledge and experiences about new technologies that can help solve the industry’s most pressing issues.”

The signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishes a business relationship focused on providing in-market support for agtech companies in New Zealand. It also opens doors for New Zealand agtech companies to enter the U.S. market via WG’s Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) in Salinas, California, and for U.S.-based agtech startups to access the New Zealand market and opportunities.

“Connecting our agriculture innovation ecosystems will benefit innovators, growers, investors, regulators, researchers and public stakeholders not only in our two countries, but around the globe,” said Peter Wren-Hilton, executive director at Agritech New Zealand. “We are excited to embark on this new partnership to foster economic growth in the U.S. and New Zealand through international connections and missions.”

The WGCIT provides a co-working space that offers agtech start-up companies access to training and mentorship; monthly seminars; regularly scheduled events; and exclusive events with WG members – specialty crop farmers in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. As part of the MOU, the community that Agritech New Zealand serves will now have access to WGCIT offerings. Additionally, the WGCIT will work with Agritech New Zealand to evaluate opportunities to conduct R&D trials with potential New Zealand partners during the Northern Hemisphere off season.

About Western Growers:
Founded in 1926, 
Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide over half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including nearly half of America’s fresh organic produce. In December 2015, WG opened an agtech incubator—the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology—in Salinas, California to provide startups with the resources and mentoring needed to get their companies and technologies up and running. The Center now houses 47 startups. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook.

About Agritech New Zealand:
Launched in 2018, Agritech New Zealand is a purpose driven, membership funded organization 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.  

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Posted in AgriTechNZ News

US and NZ sign historic agritech agreement

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

Salinas, California – Agritech New Zealand has forged a partnership with a major American company to speed up growth of agritech in New Zealand.

The partnership with Western Growers will strengthen and accelerate the development of agritech markets in both countries, Agritech NZ executive director Peter Wren-Hilton said from Salinas, California, today.

Hank Giclas, Western Growers’ senior vice president, strategic planning, science and technology said there were a myriad of issues severely impacting agriculture and the production of food globally.

“Building a two-way bridge for agricultural technology will result in international collaboration where we can create, transfer and share knowledge and experiences about new technologies that can help solve the industry’s most pressing issues.”

The agreement establishes a business relationship focused on providing in-market support for agritech companies in New Zealand.

It also opens doors for New Zealand agritech companies to enter the US market via the Western Growers Centre for Innovation & Technology in California, and for US based agritech startups to access the New Zealand market.

Wren-Hilton says connecting New Zealand’s agriculture innovation ecosystems will benefit innovators, growers, investors, regulators, researchers and public stakeholders not only in both countries, but around the globe.

“We are excited to embark on this new partnership to foster economic growth in the US and New Zealand through international connections and missions.”

Western Growers provide a co-working space that offers agritech start-up companies access to training and mentorship; monthly seminars; regularly scheduled events; and exclusive events with Western Group members such as specialty crop farmers in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico.

As part of the deal, the community that Agritech NZ serves will now have access to Western Growers offerings.

The American company will work with Agritech NZ to evaluate opportunities to conduct research and development trials with potential New Zealand partners during the northern hemisphere off season.

Western Growers, founded in 1926 represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico.

Their members and their workers provide over half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including nearly half of America’s fresh organic produce.

Agritech NZ was launched earlier this year to connect agritech innovators, investors, regulators, researchers and interested public. As part of NZTech, it is helping build a world class agritech ecosystem but New Zealand needs to integrate agriculture and technology 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 for the world, Wren-Hilton says.

For further information contact Peter Wren-Hilton on 21 791120 or Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

NZ Agritech Creating Global Solutions

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Over thirty kiwi agriculture innovators have touched down in Silicon Valley ready to test their solutions among some of the most competitive global growers and farming leaders. Their powerful weapon: New Zealand’s unique recipe to feed the planet sustainably.

The delegation will join an internationally subscribed agritech immersion programme and visit large US growers and producers, connect with local trends, while scoping investment and export opportunities. Led by Callaghan Innovation and Agritech New Zealand, the group includes a diverse talent pool of early and late stage agritech businesses as well as researchers and innovation leaders.

The global agriculture industry has been slow in its uptake of technology, but this is changing as it looks to innovate and solve significant problems. These include rising labour shortages, environmental pressures, more adverse weather events, and feeding a global 10 billion population by 2050.

Callaghan Innovation’s Nicky Molloy says New Zealand has an incredible recipe to help solve these problems. “Our genuine relationships with farmers and growers, our kaitiakitanga (care for the environment), our natural innovation flair, and our strong national integrity measures are a unique value proposition,” says Nicky, an agritech innovation expert.

“Feedback from Silicon Valley tells us our agritech is world class, we are generally a step ahead. But we struggle with thinking globally and adapting to different markets soon enough. Programmes like this make a huge difference where innovators experience the very real and different conditions here out in the field, while connecting them with partnership and investment opportunities.”

The conference will feature a panel session about New Zealand’s unique ability to help feed the world, run by both Nicky and Agritech New Zealand’s CEO, Peter Wren-Hilton. Peter says the trip is expected to produce some significant international deals that will improve kiwi access to the US agritech ecosystem.

“This team is part of a growing body of global experts who are passionate about connecting, mentoring, and investing in agritech firms,” says Peter.

“When we first embarked on developing the program back in 2015, we could not have envisaged just how significant the long-term impact would be on our emerging agritech sector. These are exciting times for New Zealand. What happens over the next few months could well determine just where we sit in this global industry in the years ahead.”

Peter says the economic return of last year’s mission through increased cross-border trade is now being measured in the $US multi-millions. Alumni of the programme include kiwi firms like Robotics Plus and Autogrow who now have bases in Silicon Valley with significant international customers.

A list of the delegates, key mission info, updates and resources are available via this link.

About Callaghan Innovation 

Callaghan Innovation is New Zealand’s innovation agency. We activate innovation and help businesses grow faster through the power of science, technology and process transformation. Our staff of business innovation experts – including more than 200 of New Zealand’s leading scientists and engineers – connect people, opportunities and networks, providing technical solutions, business innovation programmes, incubator programmes, and R&D co-funding. 

About Agritech New Zealand 

Agritech New Zealand connects innovators, investors, regulators, researchers and interested public.  It promotes opportunities and challenges raised by agritechAgritech New Zealand advances the ecosystem through advocacy, collaboration, innovation, talent and economic growth through international connections and missions.  

Posted in AgriTechNZ News