As we settle back into our desks and dust the sand off our jandals, these are 5 things to look out for from New Zealand’s agritech sector in 2019.

  • The ongoing development of Agritech New Zealand. In October, a workshop was held in Auckland to formally define its Purpose. It was attended by the organisation’s Executive Council, representing agritech stakeholders from across industry, government, research & investment. We discussed why we existed, what success looks like, our Purpose, our Vision, and our Why? We summarised Agritech New Zealand’s vision in just a few words.

    ‘We believe in working together to unleash New Zealand’s agri-technology expertise, globally’.

    This vison will drive much of the organisation’s activity through 2019.

  • The development of an all-of-government taskforce to develop an NZ Inc. agritech strategy. Work on this taskforce began in Q4, 2018 with a number of agencies including MBIE, NZTE, Callaghan Innovation, MPI & MFAT coming together to build an all of government sector focus. This initiative is being driven from the Beehive (Ministers) and is being supported by Agritech New Zealand. It provides an opportunity for government and industry to align on some of the big opportunities and challenges facing the wider agri sector. Expect major developments around this in Q1, 2019.
  • Increased global connectivity though Agritech New Zealand’s ‘first country’ partnership with Farm2050. Work is already underway on building out the first major initiative – identifying disruptive technologies in nutrients. We will be viewing this from a standpoint of application, measurement and efficiency, as well as novel nutrient technologies such as microbiome / soil health technologies. Given the environmental impact caused by issues such as run-off, this is one initiative that we expect New Zealand to take ownership of. It provides a platform for a very wide set of NZ stakeholders to engage and collaborate in addressing an issue of global significance.
  • Increased investment into New Zealand’s agritech sector. In 2018, we saw a number of examples of international capital being invested into early stage, disruptive New Zealand agritech companies. These included Robotics Plus, Biolumic & Halter. A number of other companies are currently in-market and we confidently expect to see some more significant announcements around successfully closed funding rounds in the first half of 2019.
  • Increased engagement with international markets. During 2019, several major international events have been targeted. In February, a large delegation of kiwis will be attending evokeAG in Melbourne. In June, another large delegation will be headed to Salinas in Northern California for the 2019 Forbes Live agtech event. In September, another group of New Zealand agritech companies will be headed to Ireland for the 2019 Irish Ploughing Championships.

Each of these 5 things to look out for should not be seen in isolation. They are part of a collective agenda to build and scale the country’s agritech sector.

In June, the NZ agritech story will be formally launched during National Fieldays 2019. Work on this has begun and both NZ Story and NZTE are committing considerable resource to make this happen

It’s why, as I settle into my desk and like millions of others, kick off the sand from my jandals, I am so excited about 2019. During 2018, a lot of building blocks were put in place. 2019 is the year when the real building begins.