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Proposed Nominees for AgriTech New Zealand Executive Council seats

Major Corporate Nominees

Ben Wakely, PwC NZ

The scope and pace of change being thrust on the food and fibre sector is overwhelming. Right now, we are facing some significant structural challenges that require strategic focus, action and urgency. I believe AgriTechNZ has a strong role to play in the interface between the public and private sectors, in influencing the direction of change. 

As an experienced strategy, transformation and commercial advisor with strong food and fibre sector experience, I have the expertise, insights and networks to support AgriTechNZ in making a difference for its members, for the sector and for Aotearoa. High quality governance will be essential to the organisation’s success.  I have relevant governance experience and am highly motivated to be part of an Executive Council that can make challenging decisions and bring the right perspectives on a range of complex issues.

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Blair Smith, LIC

I believe the crucial ingredient to success in our sector is collaboration. AgriTechNZ has shown itself to be a leader in this, creating connections and fostering a growing ecosystem within NZ and increasingly connecting that with the booming global agritech scene. I would be honoured to have the opportunity to directly support and influence that work as a member of the Executive Council. Currently I am CEO of Agrigate, a wholly owned subsidiary of LIC, where I lead a team developing apps and APIs that empower farmers by making it easy for them to connect and share data about their farms with the people and systems that need to know. 

I’m no stranger to farming having grown up on a sheep, beef & deer farm in the King Country where I still relish a weekend on the tractor cutting silage or helping dad draft lambs. Career wise I started out studying law, eventually completing a Masters degree where my thesis focused on emissions trading and agriculture. Environmental issues remain a big driver for me today; but having been introduced to the transformative power of technology while working at Fonterra I’m now more convinced that it’s technology not legal arguments that will solve problems and realise opportunities along our agricultural value chains – both on farm and on the plates of our customers. If successful I would draw strongly on my experience and networks to ensure AgriTechNZ continues to build an ecosystem of agritech innovators here in Aotearoa that can have a transformative impact globally.

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Iain Boyd, ANZCO Foods

For 15 years I’ve been working to assist NZ businesses to gain advantage through the use of technology. I’ve worked in a range of industry verticals & been fortunate enough to hold senior technology management positions in a number of organisations. My executive career has helped me gain a pragmatic and execution focussed approach to engaging stakeholders, making sure all views are heard in collaboration and furthering the mission of the entities I’ve worked with through strategic direction and partnership.

I believe AgriTech to be NZ’s next biggest export to the world. We have such an awesome community of innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs and creatives and we lead the world in our AgriTech solutions. If lucky enough to serve on the AgriTechNZ Executive Council I will work tirelessly to further the mission of AgriTechNZ driving stakeholder collaboration, leveraging my relevant networks & breaking down silos, engaging & leading digital strategy, promoting industry-wide initiatives and AgriTechNZ’s purpose, ensuring we have a data led approach to ensuring our work is getting the right outcome for member organisations.

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Sarah Adams, Gallagher Group

For the last 25 years I have worked in the agricultural industry bringing innovation into traditional agriculture to help the industry make some quantum shifts in productivity. With the introduction of technology, I have grown a number, of small start-up agricultural companies into substantial globally recognised businesses. Using innovation to create value added products and transitioning businesses from selling products to solutions has been key to the success. In my current position of Global Strategy and New Ventures Manager at Gallagher Animal Management I am introducing open innovation and digital technologies to help our customers solve some the largest challenges they are facing.  When not at work I am a ‘hands on’ farmer on our hill country sheep and beef property on north side of the Raglan Harbour. This ‘grass roots’ farming experience enables me to clearly understand the problems farmers are trying to solve.

My passion for revolutionising the agriculture sector and a desire to help forge closer collaboration and nurture talent within the agritech ecosystem are the drivers behind my nomination for the AgriTechNZ Executive Council. I believe my substantial networks in the global agritech ecosystem, ability to form collaborations, exploit opportunities and find innovative solutions to the challenges the industry faces are what I can bring to the Executive Council.

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Shivani Jagga, Microsoft New Zealand

I’m a sales and business management professional with 20+ years of experience. Working within Microsoft and leading the Agri sector has given me a deep understanding and appreciation of the challenges and opportunities faced by the New Zealand Agri Sector. I have a passion for the Agri Industry and making positive change and connecting Agriculture and Technology to strengthen NZ’s Primary Sector. I have led effective teams to deliver business outcomes, driven adoption of technology to enable business success, measured business success and led improvement initiatives with a strong focus on Sustainability for Agribusiness which is to accelerate our journey to a better future.

My work with Microsoft teams such as working with FarmLands, Silver Fern Farms, Zespri and LIC, deeply embedded into the agri-sector in New Zealand. I have worked on projects big and small to ensure that organisations are getting optimal results from their data. New Zealand is an innovative nation and having worked closely with some of the smartest and most agile Saas organisation and partners. This includes the impressive work of Pamu(opens in a new window) and Vodafone Teams Connect solution which in COVID times was able to create a nation of connected farmers coordinating 114 farms. And also Fusion5’s solutions with Primary(opens in a new window) ITO. From winegrowing to beekeeping, milking to horse-breeding, Primary ITO supports learners across the entire people, food and fibre sector, Fusion5 (opens in a new window)accelerated their transformation their outdated system into a modern tech platform. This means I have a strong grasp of what modern agritech customers need and require to thrive and something I would like to serve as being part of the Executive Council team. I look forward to serving on the AgritechNZ Council and being part of an amazing team.

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Tim Wixon, Bank of New Zealand

I founded and lead BNZ’s scaling Technology Industries portfolio of software, software-enabled, high-tech manufacturing, high-tech infrastructure and biotechnology businesses which numbers over 1500 clients and proposition delivered through a network of over 35 tech focussed bankers across New Zealand, with recent additions to the capital part of BNZ’s proposition (Capital, Connections, Capability at all stages of tech business’ lifecycles) being Revenue Based Financing and Project Scale Up.  I have been with BNZ for almost 8 years in frontline, leadership and strategy roles (all building BNZ’s technology industries offering), following an early career in securities law.  I’m a qualified barrister and solicitor, a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder and hold a Masters of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship, along with degrees in law, finance and economics.

I would bring a strong understanding of technology business models, the technology industries, financing, banking and a wide lens across both agritech and non-agritech tech businesses across the New Zealand economy to AgriTechNZ. I am keen to join the AgriTechNZ Executive Council both to learn and to help shape (from an informed vantage point) and grow New Zealand’s agritech market and opportunity. New Zealand has a strong heritage in Agriculture and a technology industry that is going from strength to strength – AgriTech is a clear opportunity in relation to which NZ could lead the world, but, from observations during 8 years in the technology industries at BNZ, is an opportunity yet to be (fully) realised.

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Other Corporate Nominees

Jason Hanley, FarmIQ

I am a technology leader with a strong focus on product delivery. My career of over 20 years in technology has brought me to FarmIQ where I am passionate about solving problems for farmers through technology.  If elected I will bring my experience from many domains, from large corporates to start ups, across many roles from product management, agile consultancy, to executive leadership.  Only having been in the Agritech sector for just over 3 years I believe I will bring fresh perspectives and new voice to the council. I will also bring the passion I have for making NZ Inc and AgriTechNZ successful, not just in NZ, but on the world stage.

Collaboration across NZ Agritech and the primary industries is the only way that NZ and its agricultural communities are going to lean in to, meet, and exceed the increasing regulation and environmental commitments.  There is already a large among of activity across the industry looking to introduce rules, regulation, compliance, and if we work more closely together, we can achieve so much more in proving NZ Farming is already highly sustainable and environmentally focused. As a nation we are intrinsically linked to our whenua, we can be world leaders in demonstrating what it means to be responsible stewards of the land while delivering world leading primary industry products. I want to be part of that collaboration, and I want to be part of organisations that bring Agritech closer together.

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Mark Begbie, PlantTech Research Institute

I have spent my professional career working at the interface of new product introduction and scientific research, with the focus on delivering economic and societal impact.  It started with the realisation that I wanted to work on varied and impactful science, and that better suited me to R&D in the exploding telecoms market than a career in academic research.  With the telecoms bubble bursting, a new door opened in what is now called the Triple Helix space – where companies, Government, and research collaborate to create new opportunities.  It is the years spent in this space, first as a technologist then as a manager and a leader, that has given me direct experience of many models and activities across Europe – and led to the agritech sector here in New Zealand.  Supporting companies to create success through access to relevant and exploitable science outcomes and capabilities is what gets me going in the morning.

AgritechNZ is a great power for good.  I am a huge supporter of what it has achieved both domestically and internationally, and firmly believe that it has a key role to play in supporting the transformation of our sector in the face of the climate catastrophe and technological change that will never again be as slow as it is today.  I want to contribute my experience, gained internationally, to support AgritechNZ in supporting its members to flourish.  I will be an advocate for support of innovation and risk taking within the sector and with Government, to ensure they provide the support that will make the most difference.  I believe the Research Science and Innovation green paper consultation is a critical opportunity for us to leverage for positive change, and I would relish the opportunity to put my effort behind AgritechNZ as we navigate this process.

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SMES & Startup Nominees

Andrew Cooke, Rezare Systems

I am one of the founders and Managing Director of Rezare Systems (now part of the Map of Agriculture Group). My background is in agricultural research, livestock recording, and data interoperability. Many of you will know me from our collaborative work in defining open specifications for data interoperability in the agricultural sector. My work takes me across agricultural technology in New Zealand, Australia, and internationally. I try to be very collaborative and enjoy introducing people and businesses to each other, looking for ways to help sector businesses be successful and contribute to the profitability and sustainability of the farming and growing sector. 

I intend to bring that experience to the AgriTechNZ Executive Council: supporting the AgriTechNZ members who engage with me to share and represent their views, and bringing my experience in agricultural tech, adoption, and data challenges to AgriTech New Zealand’s projects and strategy.

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Emma Buchanan, Soter

I am the Managing Director of Soter, a provider of Farm Environmental Plans including Greenhouse Gas advice and resource consents. I have sat with farmers for nearly a decade, learning how they manage data and navigate the compliance burden. With my experience managing data warehouse projects I have combined my farming and data geekdoms to create software to automate much of the process for them.

I can bring to the AgriTech board a background in project and data management, and day to day on farm learning to inform advice to Government and the organisation with real-world, real-time experience. I hold a Bachelor of Business Studies, Post Grad Dip in Resource and Environmental Planning, the Advanced Sustainable Nutrient Management Certificate with Agricultural Greenhouse Gas endorsement. I am an HBRC, BOPRC and WRC Approved provider of FEMPs, Dairy NZ approved provider of Sustainable Milk Plans and I have facilitated workshops for the HBRC, HB Fruit Growers, Beef and Lamb NZ and the Deer Industry. I have worked on horticulture and dairy farms, and until recently owned a sheep, beef and cropping farm in Central Hawkes Bay.

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Gareth Hill, Cropsy

I have been passionate about agritech for so long, the term agritech didn’t exist. I spent over a decade at a CRI developing disease forecasting and decision support systems for the kiwifruit and wine sectors, and preaching the potential of data and technology to anyone and everyone. During a comparatively brief stint at a data consultancy, I became the science advisor for Cropsy, an agritech start-up working in the wine sector. I have since confirmed to myself that agritech is where I want to be and have taken on a permanent role at Cropsy managing the research and innovation programmes.

My mix of biology, data science, and strategy roles over the years would be a huge benefit to the AgriTechNZ Executive Council as I can understand the problems both the agritech and agricultural sectors face from a number of perspectives. The key perspective I am missing is that of the grower, but as a huge proponent of human-led design, co-innovation, and simply talking to people, I see this as an opportunity. I am looking forward to working closely with growers to understand their perspectives and ensuring their needs are baked into agritech solutions from day one to start shifting the dial from technology push to solution pull.

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Kenneth Irons, Agsorted

The main purpose of AgriTechNZ is to create an environment in which its members can thrive, achieving their own business goals while also delivering value to farmers and growers and others in the food and fibre value chains.  Creating that environment means building relationships with Government Ministers, Directors General, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, Levy Bodies, Banks and Fund Managers, Iwi Leaders, Universities and CRIs, and with sister agritech organisations in key overseas markets – and then based on those relationships; developing and implementing policies and projects that improve AgriTechNZ’s members’ access to capital, talent and customers.  As the SME representative and also as AgritechNZ Chair over this past two-year term, with the ITP and many other strategic initiatives, I’ve built these relationships, helping the Executive Council, our CEO and members create a vibrant, respected, growing agritech sector, delivering value through better data standards, improved interoperability, and increased farmer appetite for digital adoption.

While we have many tangible results to celebrate as evidenced by growth across our SME sector of an impressive 30%, and growing membership with high retention rates, there remains much more to gain across all member categories, but especially for the SME and Start-Up category. So I invite and appreciate your support for a second of two permitted terms, so we can capitalise on the hard-won relationships built.  With significant NZ Government support as evidenced in the recent budget announcements of $339M Climate Action Fund, $200M Regional Innovation Fund and $100M Business Growth Fund, we can not only accelerate our members’ NZ growth rates, but also achieve more in offshore markets too.  We have a strong relationship with Agritech Australia who share our appetite to achieve more by presenting a combined voice to world markets, and untapped opportunities with key countries including Ireland, Israel, UK and more.

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Matt Flowerday, GPS-it

I am the founder of GPS-it, a specialist mapping company that has been in business for 20+ years. As an early innovator in the agritech space, I’m passionate about agritech and always looking for opportunities to be involved in growing and telling the NZ Agritech Story to the world. I’ve spent many years travelling overseas to look at emerging technology and how it can be applied or, in some cases, how it could be done better!.. and firmly believe there is a significant opportunity for NZ agritech businesses that has yet to be unlocked.

I have a strong governance background as a chartered member of the Institute of Directors, with strengths in strategy and technology, which I will bring to the Executive Council. I hold several directorships across a range of Agri-focused businesses, I grew up on a dairy farm and I am a kiwifruit grower, so I have a unique insight into a range of challenges and opportunities across the primary and tech sectors.

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Melissa Baer, Webtools Agritech

I am interested in serving on the AgriTechNZ Executive Council because of the great work they do, but also the exciting opportunity I see for New Zealand in this space. An industry full of passion and commitment and deeply seeded in the psyche (and GDP) of New Zealanders, it’s what we (as a Canadian now New Zealander) are made of. I have come from a very non tech background and have made the full leap to technology. I’m emboldened and excited for what these powerful tools can bring to the sector. More than that I’m excited by the people who are creating and using the tools more than anything, because they are just tools after all and it’s up to us how we decide to use them and for what purpose.

A bit about my background, I grew up rurally on a small farm and like many small farms in North America we were always trying to make it commercially viable. I then went on to build a variety of businesses from marketing of farm products to not for profit food businesses to agriculture tourism and even agriculture education programs. I have experience in every business model across the supply chain, from growing through to end consumer retail. I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Webtools Agritech here in New Zealand, serve on the NZTech board and am actively involved in mentoring young tech entrepreneurs around Christchurch’s eco system. I bring a slightly different lens to the conversation having come from Waterloo Ontario Canada, where tech boomed during the Blackberry era and we saw the merging of agriculture and tech at that time due to the proximity of agriculture to the city. Ultimately, I came to New Zealand out of my love of rugby and agriculture. I hope I can be a contribution to the sector that has given me so much and create opportunities for New Zealand and New Zealanders.

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Peter Nation, NZ National Fieldays Society

I have been an AgriTechNZ Council member since June 2020. I have been involved directly in the New Zealand Agritech sector for some 18 years and using technology on farm for most of my lifetime. I feel I have a good understanding of the sector, the participants and the opportunities the sector has for future growth.

The industry is being driven to adopt technologies due to efficiencies, cost and supply of labour, while also wanting to meet safety and traceability needs of our global consumers. Supported by AgriTechNZ and its members the opportunities are immense and exciting. I am happy to be re-standing for the Council, to build on the success over the past 2 years.

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Robert Ford, Fellows Ford Consulting

Kia Ora, my name is Rob Ford and I currently have a consultancy specialising in assisting businesses in the Primary sector more specifically around Agri & Food tech. The last 16 years of my career have been the most rewarding working in the Primary Sector. Firstly, I worked for LIC (Livestock Improvement) holding several General Management positions then moved to Pamu (nee Landcorp) and took up the role of GM Innovation, Environment and Technology.  Post Pamu I headed to a small Software Development company based in Tauranga called Cucumber but after suffering a serious illness was forced to relinquish this role to focus on my health. Thankfully I am fully fit, recovered and now working on my consultancy.

In applying for this role on the Executive Council I believe I would bring a wide range of experiences understanding the development of products and solutions for the sector. I have been involved in initiatives such as Farm Software (MINDA & Farm IQ), to Farm Automation (Protrack & Dairy Automation Ltd), Foodtech (Sheep and Deer Milk). In all cases this has involved product development all the way through to commercialisation. I have also held governance roles for the roll out of the RBI (Rural Broadband Initiative), Farm IQ, Dairy Automation and LIC Farm Automation. I am currently a member of the Directors Institute. I would sincerely appreciate your review and support of my application on the AgriTechNZ Executive Council for the SME/Startup position.

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Victoria Kennedy, Sprout Agritech

As Sprout Operations and Partnership Manager I develop and execute New Zealand’s specialist AgriFoodTech Accelerator. Sprout’s core reason for existing is to create backable start-ups, by building capabilities and providing entrepreneurs with tools and contacts. My work is creating a strong cohort of start-ups, and building a community of corporate partners, mentors, research institutes and investors, so they can work together to turn their vision into a backable, scalable global technological solution for the food and fibre sector.

Having managed, designed, and executed events across Europe for New Zealand Winegrowers. I understand the strength of an industry collaborating to build a united brand to represent New Zealand. Through my role at Sprout, the team and I are in a unique position where we enable cross-industry collaboration. I believe building a sustainable AgriFoodTech ecosystem through collaboration will enable effective development, growth and success of New Zealand Agritech. I am excited to join the Council, and add value to the AgriTechNZ thriving and fast-growing ecosystem using my capabilities and network.

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Further information on our Annual Meeting and Executive Council Elections is available here