Yesterday, I flew back into Tauranga following the amazing 2017 Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program and Conference that took place last week.

For the second year running, the Kiwi delegation was the standout team. Multiple discussions were, and are, taking place right now with both US and international agribusiness players. The financial benefit to the individual Kiwi AgTech companies involved in these discussions and New Zealand Inc. cannot be underestimated. Based on calculations of the value of deals done following the 2016 Program, it is thought that NZ Inc. has benefited to close on $6M of real (new) business.

The Kiwi panel taking centre stage at the 2017 Silicon Valley AgTech Conference

From where I sat at Thursday’s AgTech Conference at the Plug and Play Tech Center, I expect that number to be exceeded comfortably this year. From the conversations amongst the delegation later that day, a major reset is taking place in terms of New Zealand AgTech businesses approach to this market. It’s a template that others might follow.

Part of that reset is evident by Silicon Valley’s clear ambition to be involved in next month’s Farming2020 event taking place from 9-11 May at the LIC Innovation Farm. Valley-based AgTech thought leaders such as Rob Trice, founder of the Mixing Bowl, will be appearing on-site and in person. Others such as Dennis Donohue, Head of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, will be linking up to Farming2020 via live video conference. More names will be announced in the days ahead.

Part of that reset also recognises New Zealand’s unique opportunity to take a thought leadership globally on the future of AgTech. We are already discussing with our AgTech Immersion Program partners, Silicon Valley Forum and NZTE, how we might generate even more value from the 2018 Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program. Part of that conversation involves a potentially enhanced version of Farming2020 next year. This would be the centrepiece of a New Zealand AgTech Immersion Program & Conference designed to attract international AgTech innovators & investors to New Zealand. Delegates to last week’s Program from the US, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Denmark all supported such an initiative.

At Farming2020, a number of the Kiwi AgTech folk who joined last week’s SV Program, will be demonstrating their tech. This will provide a platform for further discussion around potential collaborative opportunities for enhanced offshore engagement. As part of New Zealand’s Techweek 2017 initiative, this forms part of Wharf42’s mandate and commitment to help build the international component of New Zealand’s AgTech sector.

Last week’s Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program and Conference was a key element of that journey. Next month, Farming2020 provides the platform to leverage the opportunity and consolidate the country’s emerging position as a global thought leader in this space.

If you want to join us in the Waikato and be part of that journey, check out the full story at