Supporting the commercialisation of New Zealand AgTech is at the heart of much of what Wharf42 does. That task is being much easier by the increasing collaboration we are witnessing between New Zealand government agencies and the wider agribusiness sector.

One clear example of this is the intensification of the sector’s focus on the massive opportunities being offered in the US market. As part of Wharf42’s commitment to this ongoing process, I’m pleased to be able to announce today the dates of next year’s Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program & Conference. The four-day event will take place from Monday August 27th – Thursday August 31th, 2018.

The past two Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program & Conferences have taken place in April. This is a particularly busy time for New Zealand AgTech folk and next year is no different. Over a 3-month period, we will have MobileTECH, the Ag Investment Showcase, the 2018 Techweek AgriTech ‘hero’ event, Landwise & Fieldays. Then the conference drought sets in. By moving the Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program & Conference to the end of August, I hope that New Zealand delegates will have more breathing space to join us for 4 amazing days of AgTech love, learning and discovery in the San Francisco Bay region.

We are delighted to be working once again with our long-time partner, Silicon Valley Forum, to help support this event. Our good friends at Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise & the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund are all actively engaged in its planning to ensure the best outcome for New Zealand AgTech businesses making the trek across the ditch. It’s great to see this level of collaboration taking place at the NZ Inc. level.

That collaboration will be on show once again at Madison in Wisconsin next week. 20 New Zealand AgTech companies working in the dairy sector are exhibiting at the Dairy World Expo. My guess is that six months ago, this might have been just 6 – 8. With government agencies working together however, New Zealand’s AgTech dairy players will now have a major presence on the world stage. Hat doffed to James from NZTE & Nicky from Callaghan Innovation for helping make this happen.

One of my favourite other imminent New Zealand AgTech initiative in the US is the #CropsonMars hackathon being organised by our friends at Autogrow & Silicon Valley Forum. Check out the event website at http://www.cropsonmars.com/ This is taking AgTech innovation to a new level. In their words;

The future of agriculture will be defined by a series of bold, innovative solutions that pit harsh environments against human ingenuity. We might need to look to the stars – literally – to find our way forward to the farms of the future.

#CropsonMars is a special hackathon that invites the best and brightest minds—people who are
passionate, innovative and looking to create something spectacular—to join us this November to create software, data or design solutions that are literally out of this world. The #CropsOnMars motto is – if we can grow it there, we can grow it anywhere.

This is a great initiative that sees a New Zealand company hosting a major hackathon in the heart of Silicon Valley. Hat doffed to Darryn and the team at Autogrow. It looks awesome, mate!

I could talk about the fantastic field work being conducted by Colin Brown at TracMap and the solid progress being made by Biolumic; both based at the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center in Salinas. You can check out Wharf42’s own relationship with the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center here. I can only guess at the crazy airmiles being built up by the likes of Steve Saunders and Matt Flowerday as they criss-cross the Pacific promoting their own New Zealand AgTech ventures to the US market. Let there be no doubt. Our entrepreneurs are putting in the hard yards.

In my view, this intensification of focus on the US market is still at an early stage. By building on the collaborative foundations we are beginning to witness, there is no reason why New Zealand’s AgTech sector should not become global thought leaders in this space.