National Fieldays is over, so what's next for New Zealand agritech?

The Ubco team, who won an international innovation award this year.

Fieldays 2018 has wrapped up for another year, marking the most successful year yet in the event's 50-year history. Here, executive director of Agritech New Zealand Peter Wren-Hilton outlines the work still to be done to develop the agritech industry.

Last week saw National Fieldays annual 4-day event take place at Mystery Creek in the Waikato. The largest agriculture show in the southern hemisphere, it’s expected that at least 120,000 visitors will have attended .

In years gone by, I would now be marking down the dates for the 2019 show. But not this year. Wearing my new hat as the executive director of Agritech New Zealand, there is much to do as we strive to achieve our purpose of working collaboratively to connect everything and everyone in NZ agritech into a coherent community supporting the growth of agritech earnings. This reflects Agritech New Zealand’s aspiration for NZ’s agritech sector to be a global leader in science, technology and innovation, delivering commercial outcomes for the global primary sector.

Fine words, but what does this mean in practice? Here's a list of Agritech New Zealand's strategic initiatives for the next year.

  • To work closely with key agri-focused partners in New Zealand’s evolving agritech community to build a united and collaborative sector. This process has already begun in discussions with the Precision Agriculture Association New Zealand (PAANZ), the Sprout Accelerator and Blinc (the recently rebranded Lincoln Hub).
  • To work pro-actively with other members of the NZ Tech Alliance to host workshops across the country that address key enabling technologies that impact both the primary industry and agritech sectors. Being part of the NZ Tech Alliance means that Agritech New Zealand is working (very) closely with other Alliance members including the IOT Alliancethe AI ForumFintechNZ and Blockchain Association NZ. These enabling technologies have the potential to add huge value to our work and the wider New Zealand primary sector.
  • To work closely with New Zealand Government agencies to identify global projects that will assist New Zealand’s agritech companies grow export earnings. Agritech New Zealand is already engaging with a number of government agencies to identify these opportunities. These will be posted on the Agritech New Zealand website as well as through planned workshops across the country.
  • To assist raise the sector profile and grow export earnings for NZ’s agritech businesses, Agritech New Zealand is working to develop a coherent and compelling story for the international market with Callaghan Innovation and NZTE.
  • Agritech New Zealand is the Country Partner for the 2018 Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Programme & Conference. Next week, I will be in Silicon Valley working with our partners, Silicon Valley Forum, to assist finalise this programme. In New Zealand, we are working closely with Callaghan Innovation and NZVIF to support NZ agritech businesses wishing to attend the program and conference.
  • To work with partners in North America, Europe & Asia to support improved offshore market entry access for New Zealand agritech businesses. In Europe, Agritech New Zealand will be working with UK DIT in preparation for life post-Brexit. The eventual removal of farming subsidies in the UK provides NZ agritech companies with new opportunities for export. In Ireland, we will be working with Enterprise Ireland as we look towards the Irish Ploughing Show in September 2019. In Australia, we are working with AgriFutures Australia to support the EvokeAG conference in February next year. This will profile both Australian and New Zealand agritech capability to a significant audience of invited guests from throughout Asia.
  • To work with angel networks and venture firms, onshore and offshore to raise the profile of the agritech sector. During meetings in Silicon Valley next week and for two weeks in August, I will be meeting a number of agribusiness leaders and talking to a number of venture firms who have expressed an interest in investing into the NZ agritech sector. Onshore, the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund NZVIF is represented on the Agritech New Zealand Executive Council. Attracting capital to the country’s emerging agritech businesses is a key objective of the organisation.

This might appear, at first, to be an aspirational list of strategic objectives. Working with our local and offshore partners, however, and by building a genuinely collaborative operating model, we believe that this agenda is achievable and will help deliver our core purpose – supporting the growth of export earnings.

This piece was originally published on the Agritech website

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