Covid-19 postpones AdvanceAg. South Australia’s commitment to Agritech didn’t.

Covid-19 postpones AdvanceAg. South Australia’s commitment to Agritech didn’t.

Overnight, the South Australian government introduced increased community restrictions because of 2 new COVID-19 cases in the State. At about 7.00pm (NZT), I received a call from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) advising me that Friday’s AdvanceAg conference had been postponed.

From a personal perspective, I have to admit – the news sucked.

I’ve been looking forward to catching up with South Australia’s agritech community for some time. Back in October 2020, the South Australian AgTech Advisory Group published the South Australian AgTech Strategic Plan, on behalf of the South Australian government. We were due to meet for breakfast on Thursday. On Wednesday evening, I had been invited to speak at an Adelaide AgTech Meetup meeting, whilst on Thursday, Elders, Australia’s largest rural services group, had invited a number of guests to a 2-hour presentation and Q&A session at their Adelaide HQ.

Like Friday’s AdvanceAg conference, all postponed until a later date.

My immediate thoughts are with those effected by both the pandemic and the impact of border closures, lockdowns and community restrictions. Last night’s call however also reinforced in my mind the importance and need to strengthen the framework for increased trans-Tasman collaboration in the AgriFoodTech space. The major global challenges that I had planned to focus on at Friday’s conference; food security, climate and the planning for a future agricultural workforce, have not gone away. These challenges will continue to grow and the time to tackle them is now, not at some unknown ‘later date’.

Despite last night’s news, I am already looking ahead to my next trip across the ditch. As an unpaid banker to Qantas and Air New Zealand, I now have enough airpoint credits to get me from Tauranga to Perth and back. Twice. So no excuse. Strengthening the trans-Tasman framework is a key priority and I look forward to working with partners and friends on both sides of the Tasman to make it happen.


Expression of Interest: New Zealand – Korea Technology Roadshow 2021

Expression of Interest: New Zealand – Korea Technology Roadshow 2021

On 25-26 August, the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Korea will be hosting a two-day (virtual) tech roadshow. Its purpose is to provide New Zealand technology companies with the opportunity to present to, and connect with, some of Korea’s leading partners, investors, industry players and businesses.

Why Korea?

  • The world’s 9th largest economy
  • The world’s leading digital infrastructure
  • Innovation and high skilled workforce
  • Ideal global test bed
  • Business hub of North East Asia
  • Booming e-commerce market
  • Business friendly frameworks

The New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Korea (‘The Kiwi Chamber’) are seeking expressions of interest from New Zealand technology companies in the agritech, AI, cleantech and fintech spaces. New Zealand companies working in these areas are highly valued in Korea and the opportunity to develop collaborative partnerships is real.

If you want to learn more, please contact Gina Park of the Kiwi Chamber at

Alternatively, please complete the Expression of Interest Form here.

I look forward to joining the team (remotely) on the 25th. I hope you can to!

Join New Zealand’s ‘Space for Planet Earth Challenge’

Join New Zealand’s ‘Space for Planet Earth Challenge’

As Wharf42 increases its focus on leveraging agrifood technologies to tackle both agricultural production and agrifood supply chain greenhouse gas emissions, we are delighted to be able to support this fantastic initiative as an ‘Official Collaborator’ with the team at Spacebase.

Spacebase, in collaboration with Planet has announced the launch of the Space for Planet Earth Challenge. The Challenge is seeking innovative ideas to address carbon sequestration and coral health in the region. You can join the opening kick-off event on 2 August in Christchurch (either in person, or via livestream). You can register your interest here.

The text below is taken from the Spacebase website. It resonates fully with Wharf42’s own values and mission to address our changing climate. A very sincere High 5 to Eric & Emeline for their enthusiasm and endeavour in supporting the build of New Zealand’s emerging space technology ecosystem. This Challenge is a great endorsement of that work.

A Climate Emergency

We are in a climate emergency.  Without any intervention, the planet may be 4 to 5 degrees warmer by the end of the century, rendering much of the planet mostly uninhabitable with extreme weather, sea level rise, and mass extinctions of life.  We have an urgent need to work together and engage a broader community of researchers and innovators in the region to address the problems created by climate change.

Today, we have unprecedented access to satellite remote sensing data and technologies that can help us better detect, monitor and measure these changes.  The computational capability to analyze this data today is critical in making better management decisions and creating policies to reverse the damage caused to the Planet.

Leveraging Satellite Data

Satellite remote sensing has been the principal method of monitoring the impact of climate change. New satellite data, and wider access to computing and analysis tools, are enabling researchers to develop new solutions. Setting out a specific climate related challenge, with a deadline, would provide an incentive to researchers and innovators to translate research into practical tools and also encourage new teams to develop their skills to address these challenges.

The prize challenge can be used to reward successful advances in the state-of-the-art while creating opportunities for space education and outreach, and stimulate economic growth and development in the sector.

The Challenge 

There are two challenges aimed at two levels; University / Startup &High School.

University/Startup Level

Carbon Sequestration
Using satellite data, in combination with other data sources, help develop verifiable methods to measure carbon sequestration on land and in coastal areas.

High School Level

Coral Health
Help improve the monitoring of coral health changes due to climate change using satellite technology.

Excited by the opportunity? Then tune in to the official opening on 2 August and register your interest here.



Have you registered for Ireland’s SEED Agritech Global Leaders Forum?

Have you registered for Ireland’s SEED Agritech Global Leaders Forum?

I’m delighted to have been invited by Ireland’s All Business Post Group to take part in their Agritech Global Leaders Forum. It forms part of a new programme being developed called the SEED Summit.

It’s a virtual event and takes place next Thursday – 8 July.

The SEED Summit series of agritech events is the first time these events have been curated in such a format. The Global Leaders Forum session looks at the visionary and potential disruptive developments in agritech as the sector revolutionises agricultural and food output. I’m delighted to be sharing the platform with Hadar Sutovsky, Vice President External Innovation, ICL Group, Israel and Theo Kanellos, Director Business Development and Allliances, Zoetis International.

The Summit organisers’ recognise New Zealand as being a global leader in agritech ecosystem development. As national agritech ecosystems begin to form across the world, including the nascent Agritech Ireland, creating a global network of connected entrepreneurs, investors and corporates becomes more important.

New Zealand’s presence and input at the Summit is enhanced by Brendan O’Connell, CEO of AgritechNZ, who will be talking about agricultural innovations that solve real problems. Brendan will be joined by Cathal Fitzgerald, Senior Investment Director Food and Agriculture, Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. Cathal visited New Zealand back in June 2018 as part of a Farm2050 delegation and attended the launch of AgritechNZ at Mills Reef Winery in Tauranga. It’s great to see that linkage continuing!

Next Thursday’s event is expected to attract leading CEOs of Irish and international agribusinesses, policy influencers in Europe and key global institutions, as well as the leading academics leading the advancement of research in the sector. The All Business Post Group has a solid reputation for curating a number of Ireland’s leading conferences and events.

To register for next week’s Global Leaders Forum, visit

Sharing the New Zealand agritech story with Western Growers

Sharing the New Zealand agritech story with Western Growers

Last week, I spoke to Dennis Donohue, Director of the Northern California-based Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center on the Center’s ‘Voices of the Valley’ podcast. It gave me the opportunity to share New Zealand’s agritech story as well as discuss a number of emerging global trends.

I first caught up with Dennis back in 2015. I was based in Silicon Valley at the time and became aware of this new investment asset class called ‘agtech’. What I learnt was that very little of this investment was finding its way across the Pacific. I returned to New Zealand in late 2015 and the rest as they say is history. Today, Agritech New Zealand is a strong industry-led organisation and there is no lack of capital for globally-focused investable agri-technology companies in the country.

In the podcast, we talked about three key focus areas for the Center (plus, I’ll add a fourth); These are labor (lack of and cost of), food security and rapid diagnostics. The fourth reflects the work and support of Karen Ross, the California Agriculture Secretary, who together with Dennis and the team at WG are looking at longer-term workforce skills and talent training. As robotics and automation begin to play a bigger role in the field, growers and their staff need to be up-skilled to operate in this significant emerging technology-driven environment.

During our call, my current focus on the impact of our changing climate also resonated. Water in states such as California, Nevada & Arizona is a major consideration for growers. I’ve seen at first hand in high-production areas such as the Central Valley and the Salinas Valley, the ongoing impact of drought. As I write this post, the western seaboard of the US is suffering some of its highest June temperatures on record. Seattle, in the northwest, hit 37.2c yesterday.  Further north, Lytton in British Columbia (Canada) reached 46.6c. A taste, I suspect, of what’s to come with our changing climate.

In the podcast, we spoke about some of the emerging global trends and specifically about some of the specialist strengths of different national and regional agritech hubs. Dennis and I speak frequently on this subject. Western Growers understand that they need to be aware of what is happening globally to address some of their local challenges. The Center and its team are very open to this conversation.

Next month (travel bubble willing), I’m heading across the Tasman to keynote at South Australia’s AdvanceAg conference. Once again, it’s not just about sharing our story. It’s about identifying opportunities for collaboration across borders to address some of the major challenges that we discussed on the podcast last week. As the impact of climate change, labour shortages and the prospect of feeding a rapidly growing global population become more urgent, developing these collaborative cross-border frameworks will become ever more important.

If you want to check out last week’s ‘Voices of the Valley’ podcast, you can listen to the recording below.