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New Zealand’s WayBeyond advances agritech in Mexico

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

WayBeyond has established its first Latin American presence with the establishment of a new Business Development Consultant role in Mexico City, supporting growers in the region with their technology needs.

“We are incredibly pleased to welcome Celene Solis to the team and have someone on the ground with her expertise working with growers. Celene will play a key part in our strategy introducing our transformative solutions to the region and giving us insight to the needs of local growers,” says Darryn Keiller, CEO & Founder. 

“Mexico has a production value of more than USD$3 billion with an ever-increasing growth through the more than 57 thousand hectares of protected cropping. We see the value we can add to producers through new technology and data support for optimizing their businesses.” 

Mexico is a horticulture powerhouse, being the world’s 4th largest fruit and vegetables exporter. It is among the three largest producers for several crops, including avocado, lemon, papaya, blackberry, and pepper. 

Different public policies have been designed for the agricultural sector in Mexico, aiming to increase productivity, social inclusion, and sustainability growth.  

Ms Solis joins WayBeyond with over 10 years’ experience in agribusiness including key account management with Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science.  

“I’m very excited to work for another global company that has a vision to support growers with smart solutions,” says Ms Solis.  

“The industry in Mexico is ready to take the next step and the WayBeyond offerings of sensor networks, yield prediction, data platforms and other cutting-edge solutions, are exactly what is required to take production to the next level.” 

WayBeyond has key people based in New Zealand, the Netherlands, the United States and now Mexico. This expansion into a new market and ongoing growth over the past two years is also supported by the New Zealand Government.  

“It is fantastic to see New Zealand AgTech innovation being applied in Mexico to support local growers. Having local staff is really important for any company but especially in the agribusiness sector. New Zealand technology is globally recognized for helping growers of all sizes enhance efficiencies and work smarter and I am very excited to see how we can further our collaboration in-market with WayBeyond,” explains Rhianon Berry, New Zealand Trade Commissioner Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

If you’re a grower in the Mexico region, get in touch with Celene and discuss how your business can grow to the next level –

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

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

Monday, June 14th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

For further information contact:

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

About AgriTechNZ 

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

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

About AgTech Ireland 

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

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

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

New Zealand and Australian MOU strengthens trans-Tasman Agritech Sector

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

For further information contact:

Andrew Coppin                                                                 Kenneth Irons
Chairman – AusAgritech                                                Chairman – AgriTechNZ                                          

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

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Water solutions need big ideas and big investment

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

2020 Water Challenge winners announced

  • Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge aimed to solve water problems in the agri supply chain
  • Challenge will commercialise trans-Tasman solutions in Australia and New Zealand to maximise impact

As researchers look to create water out of thin air, the future of agrifood innovation looks bright, but collaboration and investment will be the key to getting ideas off the page and into market, according to Craig Shapiro, co-CEO of Bridge Hub, which has just announced the winners of its 2020 Water Challenge.

Launched in February, the Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge aimed to uncover the best and brightest research, the most innovative ideas, and the best startups that positively impact water sustainability across our agrisystem. The global Challenge attracted over 150 researchers and entrepreneurs from Australia, New Zealand and Israel.

Winning solutions as diverse as creating water from air, measuring water with acoustics and sludge-free waste recycling for remote communities highlight that the Water Challenge has been successful in its aim of uncovering some of the leading cutting edge solutions currently being developed.

“The quality of not only the winning solutions but of all the applicants highlights that we have the capacity to achieve anything if we turn our minds to the task at hand. Our ability to solve problems across the entire agrifood supply chain is only limited by our imagination, as long as we have the right frameworks in place,” Craig says.

The Water Challenge has provided recognition and prize money to the winning teams, but just as important, it has created a connected and collaborative community from across the globe, all of whom share Bridge Hub’s passion for solving global water-related problems. 

“While today marks the end of the Water Challenge, it is just the beginning of a bigger journey of working with a global community of like-minded organisations and individuals to transform many of the big ideas and solutions submitted to the Water Challenge into impactful and successful outcomes.”

The Water Challenge wraps up at a time when agrifood research  bodies are increasing their focus on both commercialisation and adoption of research, climate change continues to present global challenges and Australian agriculture considers how it achieves its goal of becoming a $100 billion industry.

Governments in many jurisdictions are allocating significant funding to help underpin the future growth of the agriculture and food sectors with many positive initiatives underway. Many of these include a focus on drought resilience and water quality.

“To solve our water related problems we will always need investment,” Craig says. “The opportunity for future investment in agrifood tech solutions is in many cases enabled by government initiatives but it is private investment that will always be the prime driver to turn great ideas into commercially successful outcomes.”

Craig believes there will be an increasing pool of capital available to be allocated to investment opportunities in the agrifood tech sector. This includes capital from the growing number of global impact investors, who require normal financial returns but also want their investments to have a positive and sustainable impact on the environment or society.

“Ultimately, we need the private sector, research, and government working together to increase investment which will underwrite the successful and sustainable future for agriculture and food production. The establishment of industry led agrifood tech bodies such as AgritechNZ and Ausagritech will also help to drive investment towards the rapidly growing agrifood tech sector. We are extremely optimistic about the direction we’re heading and in particular how the ideas unlocked from the Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge can play a role in that sustainable future.”

Winners of the Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge were announced today during a virtual event.


Australian Research Stream – sponsored by CSIRO
Advanced Capture of Water from the Atmosphere (ACWA)
Prof Chiara Neto, The University of Sydney
Ground breaking research that is working on a new water solution that aims to capture water from the air.

New Zealand Research Stream – sponsored by Zespri
Real-time control of irrigation through acoustic sensing to prevent runoff and pollution. (Acoustic sensing for Irrigation)
Dr Chandra Ghimire, AgResearch Ltd. Lincoln New Zealand
Research that is using acoustic technology to help irrigators to be smarter with their water efficiency.

Australian Startup Stream – sponsored by Commonwealth Bank
Streamwise DI
Paul Hatten, Clayton VIC
Waste Water solution that improves environmental outcomes and operating efficiencies of food manufacturers through the use of Artificial Intelligence.

New Zealand Startup Stream – Sponsored by Wharf42
James Muir, Matarangi
A water quality solution that provides real time monitoring and decision making for our rivers and waterways. 

Israel Startup Stream
Clive Lipchin, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Kibbutz Ktura
Decentralised wastewater treatment solution that assists remote and off grid communities to create new water sources.

For more about the Challenge, visit

Posted in General

Introducing the Trans-Tasman Water Challenge

Sunday, June 28th, 2020

Building stronger trans-Tasman ties in the area of innovation and agri-technology provide a unique opportunity for some really big thinking. Connecting our respective research and entrepreneurial communities has the potential to address key major global issues. Few are bigger than the scarcity and management of water.

Australia is currently grappling with one of its worst droughts on record. Water is its most precious natural resource. The agrisystem, which includes the entire agri food supply chain, needs to become more efficient with its use of water and build its long term resilience and preparedness for drought.

Australia is not alone in facing water issues. New Zealand understands this. Water scarcity is a universal problem being exacerbated by changes in our climate. Together, we need to urgently find solutions to address the immediate and longer term challenges posed to our region’s entire agricultural ecosystem.

Introducing the Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge. Bridge Hub, based in New South Wales, launched its 2020 Water Challenge at the evokeAG conference, in Melbourne, in February. The Challenge’s current supporters in Australia include CSIRO, Commonwealth Bank, AgriFutures Australia, the University of Canberra, the Government of South Australia and a number of regional development agencies across multiple Australian States.

Following discussions at the most recent Australia New Zealand Agritech Council, it was agreed that New Zealand’s Council members would invite New Zealand’s research and entrepreneurial community to join the Challenge. It was also agreed that in order to identify significant solutions to the Water Challenge, we would pose 4 questions to our research and entrepreneur community;

1. How can the agrisystem use less water and increase productivity and profitability?

2. How can we turn arid agricultural areas into vibrant, sustainable and productive regions?

3. How can we ensure the quality of water optimises the outcomes for farmers, growers and the environment?

4. How can different sectors outside the agrisystem align to optimise water usage?

Four major questions that are looking for innovative answers.

The New Zealand input is being supported by the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum, New Zealand’s Agritech ITP, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise & Callaghan Innovation. A number of additional New Zealand research and commercial organisations are signing up in support.

So what are we looking for?

Under research, we want to identify cutting edge New Zealand research that can help solve the water related problems we have identified in the agrisystem. The research solutions must have high commercialisation potential that can scale globally to have maximum impact.

Under entrepreneurship, we want to unlock and demonstrate the next generation of leading New Zealand water technology solutions for the agrisystem. The Challenge is looking to provide a testbed for the research and business entrants, in both New Zealand and Australia.

Finally, to encourage trans-Tasman research collaboration on the Water Challenge, we are looking to welcome submissions with at least one Australian and one New Zealand researcher on the team. Expect further announcements on what this might look like as the Council engages with different agencies on both sides of the Tasman.

To register your interest in the Trans-Tasman Water Challenge, please visit 

Posted in General

The Australia New Zealand agritech ecosystem just got a MASSIVE post-evokeAG boost

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

The key theme at last week’s evokeAG conference in Melbourne was the power of collaboration.

In New Zealand, this has been a key driver for the past two years. Agritech New Zealand has succeeded in bringing together different key stakeholders from across the agritech ecosystem to create a sector-wide community; a community made up of industry, research, investment and government partners. Over the past 12 months, we have worked together to develop a long-term Agritech Industry Transformation Plan. You can view and download the final draft of this work from the MBIE website here.

This power of sector collaboration is now well understood in Australia and it was great to see the formal launch of the Australian Agritech Association (AAA) earlier this month. Its co-founders are Andrew Coppin, Sarah Nolet, Craig Shapiro, Matthew Pryor and Mike Briers. I’ve worked closely with these folk for a long time and it’s a hugely positive step for New Zealand’s own agritech sector, that the AAA has been established. A strong Aussie agritech sector is helping generate a viable and powerful regional ecosystem. To create global impact, that’s absolutely critical for New Zealand.

For the past nine months, I have been working with the same awesome Aussies to develop a dynamic framework for sector collaboration between Australia and New Zealand. The formal establishment of the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council last September was an important step in this journey. It brought together key ecosystem builders on both sides of the ditch.

This collaborative framework was formally recognised at a meeting organised by the Council on Thursday morning immediately following the evokeAG conference. (Thanks to Austrade for hosting). It has provided a MASSIVE long-term boost to the Council’s vision for the region’s agritech ecosystem.

On the New Zealand side, we were joined by Dame Annette King, the NZ High Commissioner to Australia; Vanessa O’Neill, the NZ Consul General & Trade Commissioner to Victoria; David Downs, the NZ Government agritech taskforce lead; Grant Bryden, Director for Primary Sector Futures at MPI, together with Angela Traill & Mitali Purohit, key representatives from NZTE & Callaghan Innovation. Dame Annette made it clear that she and the NZ Inc. team based in Australia would provide enthusiastic ongoing support for the vision.

On the Australian side, we were joined by Chantal Jackson, Director, Agricultural Innovation and Productivity, Ministry of Agriculture; Tim Lester, Executive Officer of the Council of Rural R&D Corps; Michiel Van Lookeren Campagne, Director of Agriculture and Food at CSIRO; Charlie Thomas, General Manager, Digital & Industry Partnerships, National Farmer’s Federation; John Harvey, Managing Director of AgriFutures Australia, together with leading representatives from a number of Australian states.

The meeting discussed the Council’s vision for identifying opportunities for trans-Tasman collaboration. One of our first key missions is to promote the region to the global investment community. Attracting international capital into the region will help support and scale some of our most promising early stage companies. Both the New Zealand and the Australian government representatives recognised the value of this collaborative approach and it will be tested for the first time next month during the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco. This event provides a platform for several Australia New Zealand Agritech Council members to share that vision with leading global investors and agribusinesses. I look forward to joining my Aussie colleagues in the Bay area as we make that pitch.

In his closing remarks on Wednesday at the evokeAG conference, John Harvey, Managing Director of AgriFutures Australia talked about how the first evokeAG conference in 2019 had created a splash, the 2020 version a ripple, and how he wanted the 2021 event to create a wave. Thursday’s Agritech Council meeting was designed to help generate that first wave. It’s scheduled to hit the shores of San Francisco Bay on 17-18 March.

I look forward to updating on the impact it causes.

Posted in General

The NZ agritech mission arrives in Melbourne

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

Over 60 Kiwi agriculture innovators and leaders are now in Melbourne to showcase their technologies at the high-profile evokeAG event, create export and partnership opportunities, and build on New Zealand’s reputation as a leading agricultural innovator.

evokeAG is a two-day international event all about innovation in agriculture, drawing delegates from the entire agriculture ecosystem from across the Asia Pacific region and internationally. The mission is led by Callaghan Innovation in partnership with NZTE, Agritech New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Simon Yarrow, Callaghan Innovation’s Agritech Group Manager, says New Zealand’s startup ecosystem for ‘agritech and new food’ has been ranked in the top 10 globally and there is an opportunity for our agritech to become a multi-billion-dollar sector by 2025 (currently $1.4 billion).

“We’ve got a strong mix of Kiwi startups, larger firms, research institutes, investors, commercialisation experts, and ecosystem connectors joining our mission this year,” says Mr Yarrow. ‘That’s a reflection of New Zealand’s agritech ecosystem being more advanced than most, though still young’. 

“We’re seeing real potential for global success in robotics and automation, cloud-based platforms to manage day-to-day tasks, environmentally friendly pesticides and fertilisers, and visual artificial intelligence for animal health.

“But what we don’t have is access to the same level of investment and global channels to market. It’s why our innovators need to go the extra mile to build these global partnerships.”

As well as showcasing their products and services to international agritech leaders, members will be validating their products and strategies in the Australian market, while meeting investors and checking out research institutes and farming operations in the Mildura region.

For as long as there has been farmers,  New Zealand has had the ability to turn local agritech Dsolutions into global success stories,” says Vanessa O’Neill, Trade Commissioner. “That means accelerating the growth of agritech innovations from NZ start-ups into scalable, investable and global companies.

“Global partnerships are second nature in New Zealand business. As Australia is New Zealand’s largest two-way trading partner it makes sense to look for opportunities to work together and take our agritech advantages to the rest of the world. ​Proven agritech innovations from New Zealand, boosted by Australian resources and networks, are a winning combination in global markets.” says O’Neill.

New Zealand speakers include Mitali Purohit (Callaghan Innovation), David Downs (NZTE), Darryn Keiller (Autogrow), Steve Saunders (Robotics Plus) and Dean Tilyard (The Factory).

Organisations joining the 2020 evokeAG mission include:

Agritech innovators

AgriSmart: cloud-based digital agritech company specialising in timesheet & payroll software for Horticulture and Viticulture.

Allied Farmers: NZX listed with a range of agricultural solutions for farmers including the MyLivestock livestock stock trading mobile app and trading platform.

Autogrow Systems: Controlled Environment Agriculture with automation solutions supporting growers in over 40 countries producing more than 100 different crop types.

BumperCrop: precision insights for covered crop farms using automated wireless sensors, intuitive labour management tools and a data management platform.

Cucumber Ltd: sources technology for business challenges, delivering digital solutions for improved insight, decision-making and operational efficiency.

Ecolibrium Biologicals: builds transitional technology for biopesticide pest control, allowing growers to achieve the same outcome as synthetic ag-chem.

Ecrotek: innovative solutions helping beekeepers of all sizes run sustainable, efficient and profitable operations.

Eko360: technology controlling nutrient release and fertilisers for food crops to optimise plant growth, reducing impact on soils, the atmosphere and waterways.

GPS-it: better farming decisions and navigation using the latest aerial mapping technology to produce the most accurate maps available.

Halo Systems (TagIT Technologies): a cloud-based monitoring, controlling and dashboard platform allowing inputs from other company’s technologies.

Instep (a division of Asian Scientific Technologies Ltd): provides a suite of carbon and sustainability programmes to a wide range of Australasian and international businesses.

Iris Data Science: artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists for the agricultural, horticultural and other sectors. Developed sheep facial recognition software. 

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC): farmer-owned co-operative providing dairy genetics, information technology, herd testing and DNA parentage verification services.

Marama Labs: the business and its flagship product, the CloudSpec, gives winemakers unprecedented access to flavour and colour data of their wines.

Mastaplex: veterinary point-of-care diagnostic tests for bovine mastitis treatment. Mastatest provides dairy farmers and vets an easy, precise and fast mastitis diagnostic.

NuPoint: system providing real time asset and people tracking which is used to provide accurate traceability and proof of placement.

Page Bloomer Associates Ltd: supports sustainable food and fibre production by connecting the primary sector with science and technology providers. 

PICMI: technology making hiring seasonal staff easier with technology streamlining the employment process delivering prepared, compliant workers ready to start work. 

Radius Robotics: automating most tasks associated with arable crop production. Its robotic polyculture farming system with machine learning reduces soil depletion.

Rezare Systems: helps agribusinesses embrace digital technology, streamline their operations and get closer to farmers and customers.

Robotics Plus: develops and commercialises mechanisation, automation, machine vision, robotic and sensor technologies to address global challenges.

Sparrows: connects growers, distributors and freight forwarders on one platform to enable tracking and monitoring of freight, reducing stock loss and food wastage.

Trust Codes: traceability cloud-based platform helping food and beverage businesses combat product fraud, engage with consumers and comply with regulations.

Zespri: global horticulture marketing company interested in innovations around crop prediction and addressing labour shortages on the orchard and in the supply chain.

Webtools: delivers innovative solutions through a suite of SaaS products and custom development, using cloud-based systems, native applications and IOT.

Agritech researchers

AgResearch: improving pastoral agriculture practices and outcomes with science

Auckland UniServices: helps commercialise intelligent ideas largely out of the University of Auckland, through partnerships with business the primary sector.

Lincoln Agritech: combines leading-edge science and engineering to deliver real solutions for the environment, agriculture (food and fibre) and associated industries. 

PlantTech: using cutting-edge artificial intelligence solutions to address scientific challenges in New Zealand’s horticulture industry.

Plant & Food Research: using world-leading science to improve the way its partners grow, fish, harvest and share food – healthy foods with sustainable production systems.

University of Waikato: Robotics and Sensing group develops smart machines, robots and visual sensors for horticulture and agriculture including harvesting and grading.

Agritech investment and support

Agritech New Zealand: a membership-based organisation advancing agritech through advocacy, collaboration, innovation, and missions to global markets.

Callaghan Innovation: NZ’s innovation agency helping big and small frontier firms get ahead with tech, science and commercialisation skills, co-funding, connections and advice.

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research: a NZ crown research institute working with primary industry to develop science, research and technology solutions for commercial realities.

Ministry for Primary Industries: the NZ Government’s primary sector champion enabling, improving productivity and sustainability, and ensuring safe food production.  

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment: NZ Government department developing and delivering policy, services, advice and regulation to support business.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise: the NZ Government’s international business development agency, a key partner in supporting our exporters to succeed

NZ National Fieldays Society Inc.: Southern Hemisphere’s largest agricultural event in Hamilton, NZ. A key launch platform for cutting edge technology and innovation.

Sprout: incubator/accelerator for bold agritech businesses and entrepreneurs who move fast, think big, with solutions that reach from farm to fork.

The Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust: an independent charitable trust making targeted investments in agricultural, horticultural and forestry.

WNT Ventures: incubator empowering early-stage frontier tech firms in commercialising deep-tech solutions and ideas, often in agriculture and horticulture.


Callaghan Innovation: Melanie Tuala, + 64 27 609 4502

NZTE: Mitchell Blincoe, + 61 427 801 843

Agritech New Zealand: Peter Wren-Hilton, + 64 21 791 120

Posted in General

The United States Study Centre recommends Australia's agritech sector develops mutually-beneficial initiatives with New Zealand

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

The United States Study Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney has today released details of a joint project between researchers at USSC and LinkedIn that has found that Australia’s agricultural technology (agritech) networks are less dense and less connected to the United States than New Zealand’s.  

The following text is taken from this morning’s USSC media release.

‘Using proprietary data from LinkedIn, the research released today uses social network analysis to examine the strength of connections in one of Australia’s emerging high-tech, high-growth industries. Dense networks are an essential component of innovation, and Australia is clearly lagging behind its trans-Tasman neighbour. 

Australia is also failing to leverage its relationship with the United States. New Zealand’s smaller agritech industry has denser connections to the US agritech network than Australia’s. The US agritech market is the largest in the world – estimated to be valued at US$10.2 billion. As it accounts for roughly 65 per cent of global agritech investment, connections with the US are vital and Australian agritech is not taking advantage of the strong cultural and economic ties between the two countries as other sectors have.  

Compared to Australia, New Zealand does more with less. New Zealand’s smaller agritech network is not only more cohesive and interconnected than its Australian counterpart, but its total number of connections to US networks is on par with Australia’s, despite its smaller market size.

The report offers a number of ways that Australia can work to address these shortfalls in what should be a booming future industry. These include implementing mutually-beneficial initiatives with New Zealand to increase foreign venture capital investment in the region generally. 

“Lack of access to funding, customer, supplier or partner networks is one of the often cited barriers facing Australian startups. This research makes an important contribution to understanding the linkages between Australia and the United States in the emerging agritech ecosystem.” said Claire McFarland, Director – Innovation and Entrepreneur Program at USSC’.

You can view the full report at

In September, I joined Australian colleagues for the launch of the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council ( at the ANZLF conference in Auckland. It was no secret that New Zealand’s agritech ecosystem was better developed than Australia’s. Agritech New Zealand is one of the major reasons. By connecting everyone and everything in New Zealand’s agritech ecosystem, we have sought to promote and scale the agritech sector both domestically, but perhaps more importantly, offshore. That has generated visibility in key capital markets in the United States and beyond.

For New Zealand, a poor performing Australia is absolutely not in our best interests. Yep. You read that right. For investors sitting in San Francisco, London or Singapore, they want to see a strongly performing trans-Tasman region. It’s one of the reasons that the ANZ Agritech Council was established back in September. Its mission, which is supported in the recommendations made in today’s USSC report, is to position the region as a strong performing global agritech hub with significant opportunity for inbound venture investment. I strongly endorse this strategy.

Over the next two days, 1,350 delegates in Melbourne attending the evokeAG conference, are going to learn more about the opportunities that the trans-Tasman region offers. It’s been a privilege to sit on the evokeAG steering committee and it continues to be a privilege to work with some awesome Aussies keen to help build that regional hub.

The next 48 hours are going to be truly awesome. To follow the NZ Agritech delegation in Melbourne on Twitter, check out our hashtag @agritech_nz

Posted in General

VIDEO: Unique NZ agritech robotic technology supports US asparagus growers address major labor challenge

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

In August 2018, Agritech New Zealand signed a strategic partnership agreement with Western Growers, the largest producers of fresh produce in North America.

A key focus of the agreement was on the #1 challenge facing many US growers of specialty crops. Labor. The lack of and the cost of.

Several specialty crop sectors are under real pressure. Asparagus is one of them. A number of growers have already set up shop south of the border where growing conditions and the availability of labor are conducive to asparagus growing. Speaking to growers in California, it became quickly apparent that unless more automation could be introduced into the field, particularly harvesting, the industry in the US probably had no more than 3 years to survive. Labor issues were so serious that growing asparagus was becoming an uneconomic activity.

I was aware of the work of Professor Mike Duke and a team of researchers at the University of Waikato. They were working on developing a prototype asparagus harvester. A meeting with Mike in Hamilton and calls with Dennis Donohue at the Western Growers Technology and Innovation Center in Salinas, connected the two. Mike travelled to Salinas to meet affected growers and a few weeks later, the Waikato prototype harvester was being trialed on US asparagus grower properties. The University of Waikato’s commercialisation partner, Robotics Plus, supported the initiative. A major template for future engagement had been established.

The video below tells the story of this unique partnership. It demonstrates the significance of the strategic partnership agreement signed last year and provides an insight into how New Zealand agritech technology can help address global challenges. The good news is that not only can we build new channels to global markets, we can also deploy these technologies at home to help New Zealand growers scale their operations.

We are grateful to New Zealand Trade & Enterprise for supporting the build of the story video.

Posted in Horticulture Tech

Major lessons from Ireland last week. New Zealand’s dairy sector take note.

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

I am reflecting on last week’s truly epic visit to Ireland by the New Zealand agritech delegation.

I thought I had a reasonable handle on the state of the country’s dairy sector. Smaller family-owned farms (average herd size of approx. 80 cows), pasture-based, herringbone milking sheds and no lack of rain. Whilst this reflects the reality on the ground, I hadn’t fully understood its implication. The fact that smaller family-owned farms have been handed down over several generations means that there is relatively little (land) farm debt. The other major change in the dairy landscape was triggered 5 years ago when the EC removed milk quotas. It means that milk production has increased by 50% over the last 5 years; a trend that is likely to continue.

This all coincides at a time when Ireland’s beef sector is struggling (our visit coincided with major protests, pickets and layoffs at many of the country’s largest processors). Farm gate prices for beef are at pretty much an all-time low. This is likely to see many more dairy conversions as dry stock farmers convert to dairy. To sum up: Herd sizes are growing, production will increase and more players are entering the market.

One of the key findings of our visit was that this growth is being supported by significant public and industry investment into dairy research. On Thursday, the delegation (pictured above) visited Teagasc at Moorepark, just outside Fermoy in County Cork. Teagasc – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority – is the national body providing integrated research, advisory and training services to the agriculture and food industry and rural communities.

We learnt a lot more about the Irish dairy landscape. This included a visit to the Teagasc robotic dairy farm. This is automating a significant amount of on-farm process. It’s driving down costs and the cows looked happy enough to me. They get to choose when they go to the milking shed and there, the robots get to work. Not a person in sight.

Driving much of this research is VistaMilk, the SRI Research Centre for precision-based dairy production and processing. The research programme has been designed to develop new, and advance existing electronic monitoring and actuation technologies to transform Ireland’s dairy sector into a global leader in sustainable agritech. It will specifically address pasture-based dairy production, improved processability and the generation of novel, higher-value-added products. In addition to the creation of new sensing and actuation paradigms, particular focus will be given to developing state-of-the-art analytical techniques applied to largescale, sensor data-sets delivered by advanced network and communication technologies.

The programme is supported by 28 industry partners. Through what appears to be a strategy of highly-interconnected innovative scientific ventures and disciplines, VistaMilk will develop and deploy scientific solutions, informed by sophisticated data analytical approaches, to support Ireland’s dairy sector.

It’s time for the New Zealand dairy sector to take note.

Ordinarily, I would leave it that. Not this time however. In order to engage more directly with the Irish agritech sector, we are looking at ways to deepen the connection. Next week, I am speaking to the team at DogPatch Labs in Dublin to test the case for a formal landing pad for New Zealand agritech companies seeking to enter the Irish market. The delegation visited DogPatch Labs on Friday and we were all impressed. Finistere Ventures, a Farm2050 partner, are based on-site, as are representatives from Irish agritech heavyweight, Alltech. I visited the facility last December during the AgTech Nexus Europe conference. Impressed then. Impressed now.

I’ll provide an update on next week’s talks. Ireland offers New Zealand agritech companies similar pastoral farming systems to those back home. Its dairy sector is expanding rapidly. It also offers a dual hemisphere opportunity to speed up R&D and in-market field trials. It’s an opportunity that we will seek to leverage through increased collaboration and cooperation.

In short, we’ll be back.

Posted in Animal & Pasture Farming

Day 2 at Irish Plough. The kiwis killing it. Yes Minister. Looking for Investment? And much more.

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

Yesterday, I provided an update on Day 1 at the Irish Ploughing Championships in Carlow. The official attendance stood at 105,000. Looking at the crowds today, I expect that number to be significantly larger. It’s been hot once again and just crazy busy.

Yesterday, I shared some of my takeaways of Ireland’s agri-business landscape. Today, I want to talk about the kiwis who are here and killing it; the investors we have met and the opportunities for New Zealand agritech’s sector.

Any offshore New Zealand agritech mission is a sum of its people. The delegation to the UK and Ireland have been superb. Great ambassadors for the country, they have engaged every step of the way. Hat therefore tipped to these great NZ representatives.

  • AbacusBio
  • AgResearch
  • Agritech New Zealand
  • Auckland Uniservices
  • Callaghan Innovation
  • Fonterra
  • GPS-it
  • Lincoln Agritech
  • MilkTechNZ
  • Next Farm
  • NZ National Fieldays
  • Paysauce
  • Rezare Systems
  • RiverWatch
  • Trev Holdings
  • Zero Home Farm

As well as the formal delegation, we have met independent NZ exhibitors from Figured, Gallagher, Hansen, Kaiwaka, LIC, Saber, Tru-Test, Waikato Milking Systems and Yardmaster. Add in Ambassador Brad Burgess and the team of in-market supporters from MFAT & NZTE. All up, we have over 45 kiwis on-site. (The photo above shows some of this team inside the NZ Pavilion this morning).

Collectively we are ‘Powered by Place’. At an NZTE breakfast reception this morning, we formally launched the NZ Agritech Story. We were joined by leading Irish agribusiness players. It’s taken 8 months of preparation and it’s great to say that the Story is now officially ‘live’. To view it, check out the Agritech New Zealand website here; the new home of the NZ Agritech Story

I had invited a couple of leading venture investors to join us for the launch; Cathal Fitzgerald, Head of the Irish Sovereign Fund’s agritech investment team and Richard O’Gorman, Director of Rabobank’s Global Agritech Fund. We spoke about New Zealand’s current agritech landscape and the work of the ‘All of Government’ agritech taskforce to help build and scale the sector. I know both Cathal and Richard through our joint partnership with Farm2050. It was great to be able to facilitate this connection on the other side of the world. Their interest in the New Zealand investment landscape is as strong as ever.

Today is our final day at the Plough. Tomorrow, we head off to spend the day with Teagasc, Ireland’s state agency providing research, advisory and education in agriculture, horticulture, food and rural development. The value of this Mission is building. I look forward to updating tomorrow from the home of Ireland’s agri research excellence.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

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