I have been asked by the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) to reach out to the New Zealand AgTech sector to talk a little bit about an opportunity to fly business class to London, courtesy of Qatar Airways; participate in a tailored business programme and receive a complimentary ticket to attend the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit on 17-18 October.

Over the years, I’ve had quite a bit of contact with the folks at Victoria Street in Whitehall and the British consulate in Auckland. I’m an alumnus of the DIT (formerly known as UKTI) Global Entrepreneur Program and have had the opportunity to meet different partners in both their innovation and investment streams.

In New Zealand, Paul Wilkinson is Head of Investment for DIT. I reached out to Paul a few weeks back completely ignorant of this initiative. The good news is that the offer is only available to NZ AgTech companies. There are some simple rules.

  1. Your company or organisation must be headquartered in New Zealand, operating in the agricultural industry
  2. You must demonstrate a genuine interest and ability to either establish a presence in the UK within the next two years or; import UK agricultural products or services into New Zealand or; establish an AgTech/science collaboration or partnership with a UK company or organisation.
  3. A completed entry from must be submitted by 11.59pm on Friday 14 July 2017.
  4. The winner will be required to cover their own accommodation, insurance and living costs whilst in the UK.

These are the key points. The balance of eligibility criteria and T’s & C’s can be found at the Competition site. This can be found HERE.

I learnt from Paul that the timing of my call was fortuitous. Aside from this competition, AgTech is becoming a key focus area of interest for the DIT team in Auckland. The Great Britain Pavilion at the recent Fieldays was an example of this. As the UK enters its imminent Brexit talks with the European Union, I guess it provides opportunity for new dialog with the ‘old country’.

As to the details of the ‘tailored business programme’, on past experience, this is something that the team at UKTI used to absolutely nail. My last such programme involved field visits to Cambridge and its immediate environs. Nicknamed, ‘Silicon Fen’, the region is home to some world-renowned scientific research and major technology companies. As well as meeting the companies and scientists, we also met investor networks and regional economic development agencies. The programme covered most areas of interest for an international business looking to either partner with, or set up shop, in the UK.

And then there is the Conference. The World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit is Europe’s largest AgTech meeting. The winner will meet up with over 250 agribusiness leaders, farmers, tech startups and investors. The London Summit is one of two organised each year. The other is held in March in San Francisco. As with the tailored business program, I would expect the Summit to provide a host of great networking opportunities and leads.

If you are seriously interested in learning more about the competition, Paul can be contacted directly at Paul.Wilkinson@mobile.trade.gov.uk

It’s great that DIT are developing this new focus. Check out this blog over the coming weeks as I post more detail about the emerging conversation.