Yesterday, the Techweek17 national organising team formally launched the portal that will be the focus point for the 100+ events that will light up New Zealand’s innovation scene during Techweek17 in May. You can view the formal media release that accompanied the launch here.

It was great that the team acknowledged Farming2020 as one of Techweek17’s signature events. It was the context of my quote in that release however, that this post elaborates on. It’s all about ‘Grasping the Opportunity’ that the Farming2020 initiative is bringing to the much bigger New Zealand AgTech story. When Wharf42 began its journey to help connect New Zealand’s emerging AgTech sector with the global market two years ago, we could not have envisaged just how far we would have come.

Salinas Valley – The Salad Bowl of America

Back in July 2015, I sat down with Adiba Barney, CEO of Silicon Valley Forum, to formulate a plan to both initiate and co-organise one of Silicon Valley’s premier AgTech events. Silicon Valley Forum would front it. New Zealand would provide the back-end; the agenda, the speakers, the panelists etc. As a result of that conversation, 23 Kiwi AgTech companies made the journey to San Francisco last year to meet and engage with the Bay area’s vast AgTech ecosystem of innovators and investors. The outcomes from that first visit have been outstanding.

Driscoll’s, the world’s largest producer of berries, have already visited New Zealand to discuss potential collaboration with growers here. Further visits are planned. George Kellerman from Yamaha Ventures has also visited the country to follow-up on potential investments into our AgTech sector. At least two of the Kiwi companies who joined the delegation are in the process of establishing a formal presence in the US. That’s totally awesome.

This week, I am joining the Fonterra Farm Source Activate 2.0 team as three emerging Kiwi AgTech companies present to over 400+ Farm Source personnel in Wellington. It’s a conversation that just keeps getting bigger as more of New Zealand’s major agribusinesses connect with the country’s emerging AgTech ecosystem. The opportunities are huge.

At present, I am putting together the detailed program for Techweek17’s Farming2020 initiative. Expect more Silicon Valley input into that program. In 3 weeks’ time, I am joining this year’s Kiwi AgTech delegation as we once again hit San Francisco for the 2017 Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program and Conference. I’ll be spending a lot of my time talking to Valley-based AgTech entrepreneurs and investors about the Farming2020 initiative and the opportunity it creates for further two-way commercial collaboration between New Zealand and this most important of world markets. I will post to this site throughout the week as we leverage and then consolidate some of those opportunities.

Before then however, Farming2020 is really looking forward to sponsoring the CultivateIT AgTech Discussion Panel in Hamilton on Wednesday 29th March. This will provide the AgTech and wider tech community in the Waikato with the opportunity to learn more about the Farming2020 event, being held at the LIC Innovation Farm in May. I am really keen to meet and engage with the folks that make this region a key centre for AgTech and Agribusiness in New Zealand. You can learn more about this event here.

To be frank, it’s looking like an epic few weeks ahead. Throw in the NZ Agribusiness Investment Showcase in Palmerston North, that takes place on Thursday, and I ask one question. Has the AgTech sector ever been this energised in New Zealand?

Check out this site for all the updates.