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In less than 3 weeks, 30+ New Zealand agritech delegates will be joining the 2018 Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program & Conference. This will be the third year that Wharf42 has helped facilitate the event, together with our partners Silicon Valley Forum, Callaghan Innovation & NZTE.

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 New Zealand’s emerging agritech sector. The economic ($$’s) return through increased cross-border trade is now being measured in the US$ multi-millions, with at least five of the original cohort of early stage companies now having an established presence in North America.

Later this month, a host of new faces and companies will be joining this journey. Welcome then: AgFirst Consultants, AGMARDT, AgResearch, AgriSmart, Agritech New Zealand, Autogrow, Blinc, Blockbit, Callaghan Innovation, Giltrap Engineering, Hop Revolution, IXOM, Jenkins Freshpac Systems, Marlborough Garlic, Miro Trading, Next Farm, NZTE, NZ Tech, NZVIF, Paysource, Plant & Food Research, Robotics Plus, Seeka, Sprout, Thelning Design, Trimax and Zespri. What an amazing cross-section of New Zealand’s world-leading agritech science & research capability joining forces with a number of the country’s most exciting, emerging agritech businesses, to meet and engage with Silicon Valley’s vast agtech ecosystem. We are absolutely stoked.

Last week, the delegation spent a day at the Waikato Innovation Park for a pre-program briefing. We heard from past delegates including Steve Saunders (Robotics Plus), Matt Flowerday (GPS-it) & Darryn Keiller (Autogrow) about their experiences of previous programs and where this experience has taken them since. We were also joined by representatives from NZ Story & NZVIF as we prepped the team on what to expect from, and how to prepare for, the week ahead. I think its fair to say that the delegation is pretty well pumped, locked and ready to go.

For me personally, this will be another opportunity to connect with a number of now established friends in the wider San Francisco Bay area’s agritech community. And this provides some glimpse to where history is about to be made. To build on the value that these successive programs have developed, we need to establish a more permanent set of bridges that connect New Zealand’s agritech businesses with the capital, networks and in-market farm access necessary to help scale our sector. Building those bridges and developing these connections has been a priority of several folk over the past 12 months and I expect to be able to share some of the results of that work when I report back from San Francisco later this month.

These are exciting times for New Zealand agritech. As the global demand for more food grows, we are well placed to provide the knowledge, the products and the services to help make that happen. This month’s Silicon Valley Immersion Program and Conference is just one more step in that direction. What happens over the next few months could well determine just where New Zealand sits in this global industry in the years ahead.