Tauranga-based technology incubator, WNT Ventures, has invested into HelixID. HelixID is a Kiwi AgTech start-up developing a ground-breaking wearable technology platform for cows.

New Zealand dairy cows

New Zealand dairy cows waiting for their HelixID wearable tech

The investment gives the management team at WNT, the opportunity to work with HelixID partner, the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), as well as the team at the Sprout Accelerator Program. With HelixID joining WNT’s other stable of incubating companies, including point-of-care bovine mastitis diagnostic test start-up, Mastaplex, this investment enhances our reputation for investment into the AgTech space. As a co-founder of, and limited partner in, WNT Ventures, this news is a fantastic way for the team at Wharf42 to kick off 2017.

We already have two key AgTech initiatives in place for the year ahead.

In April, we will be joining other participating Kiwi AgTech businesses and investors and taking part in the second Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program and Conference. As previous posts have described, I have been working with our Silicon Valley partner, Silicon Valley Forum, and NZTE’s US AgTech head honcho, James Wilde, to assist build out the 2017 program. I will continue to update as the agenda firms up. Right now, it is looking like four days of amazing AgTech goodness.

In May, Wharf42 is hosting our second key AgTech initiative for the year. Farming2020 has been designed to enable New Zealand’s rapidly growing AgTech sector take centre stage during Techweek 17. Already identified as one of the week’s signature events, we will be developing this program and event over the coming weeks. We will be regularly updating the Event website at www.farming2020.nz so that the sector can keep up-to-date with developments. If you have not already done so, you can subscribe to Farming2020’s monthly newsletter by visiting the website’s homepage.

Every year, at the beginning of January, I publish details of Wharf42’s key areas of focus for the year ahead. This year, there are just two.

We believe that 2017 is the year that will finally witness a significant increase in corporate New Zealand AgriBusiness engagement with the country’s start-up and early stage AgTech ecosystem. This follows global trends which have seen major international AgriBusinesses invest significantly into emerging, disruptive companies. I think that evidence of this trend will emerge both before and during Techweek 17. It is a development that Wharf42 will be actively encouraging since it has the potential to offer scale not previously available to emerging Kiwi AgTech businesses. It also offers those corporate players who engage with New Zealand’s highly innovative AgTech start-up ecosystem, a potential for major competitive advantage.  Expect a lot of coverage of this developing story over the coming months via this blog.

The second key area of focus can be summed up in one word. China. Wharf42’s involvement with last year’s Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program and Conference did not go unnoticed. I can’t say too much at present, but get ready for a new set of opportunities in New Zealand’s largest Agri export market. More news to follow.

As we join many other Kiwi businesses on the first day of work following the long Christmas and New Year break, we believe that we have laid down the foundations for another amazing 12 months of AgTech opportunity and goodness.

It’s also going to be a whole heap of fun.