Innovate UK in New Zealand

Innovate UK in New Zealand

Yesterday, Jacqui and I had a great meeting (& thanks for the lunch!) with the visiting Innovate UK Global Business Innovation Programme (Agri-Tech) team in Hamilton yesterday. It was good to learn about each of the delegates’ businesses and key focus areas. There’s undoubtedly a real opportunity for some partnerships and deal-making to be done in New Zealand.

In-market visits such as this offer huge value to the participants. The follow-up however is the critical piece. It was one of my own focus areas of conversation with some of the team. Two weeks provides you with a taster. To properly evaluate any real export market potential however requires a different and more nuanced approach.

We discussed the Australia – UK agritech accelerator programmes which provide a more in-depth understanding of the market opportunity. I also talked a bit about Platform10 which Wharf42 and Western Growers will be launching in California next week. Building Global Partner Networks can provide both startup and scaleup companies with the opportunity to accelerate their knowledge and understanding of offshore market potential.

The current UK delegation tour in NZ looks like a great introduction to our agrifood and agrifoodtech ecosystem. I hope the discussions help develop a more collaborative framework which both countries can build on.

Introducing Platform10

Introducing Platform10

It gives me a great pleasure to formally introduce you to Platform10, the most significant outcome generated by the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit.

Platform10 is an international, multi-year collaboration that will accelerate promising biopesticide companies, rigorously assess products, enhance grower confidence, and facilitate market development and adoption. Platform10 is being developed by Western Growers and ourselves at Wharf42.

Growers are up against mounting pest and disease challenges due to climate change, reduced efficacy, and diminishing availability of traditional pest control tools. The specialty crop industry in particular requires new crop input technologies due to governmental regulations and consumer demands. Bio-based and novel pest control options to address existing and anticipated gaps in pest management are sorely needed to ensure that our growers are properly equipped with the tools to address these challenges.

This new model to assess and accelerate biopesticide and bio-based pest control tools is intended to improve grower confidence and understanding for how to use biological products. Rigorous standards of efficacy including knockdown, crop damage, and increased yield/quality potential will be assessed. Additionally, effects on non-target organisms and soil health, replacement potential for traditional chemical pesticides, and appropriate application rate/use pattern will be considered. This program will work with product companies to design protocols, developed to assess how the product works when incorporated into a more integrated, ecologically based farming system.

Demonstrating successful product / solution outcomes through extensive field trials on grower properties is a key metric for Platform10. Over the next six months, Platform10 will be engaging with international partners to build out a multi-year program of activity. This will be formally launched at the 2024 Salinas Biological Summit next June.

Today, working with dedicated, targeted growers within the Western Grower network, the initial field trial program will be managed out of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas, California. This initial program, open to product companies anywhere, will be formally launched at the Organic Growers Summit in Monterey on 29-30 November.

Platform10 has targeted 5 key initial specialty crops with high priority diseases. They are;

Leafy Greens: INSV, Pythium, Thrips
Tomato: Beet leafhopper, Thrips and / or Tomato spotted wilt virus
Grape: Mealy bug, Powdery mildew, Botrytis
Strawberry / Other berries: Lygus bug, Macrophomina, Phytophthora
Citrus: Citrus thrips, Red scale

Product companies (of any size and from anywhere) who are;

  • addressing the control of pests and diseases in the above crops where current traditional chemical solutions are at risk or have been removed;
  • replacements for fumigants, where pest resistance is a serious problem;
  • there are residue/MRL issues;
  • the food channel buyers or export markets are asking to reduce or replace a particular chemical pesticide;

are asked to download the Platform10 RFP and apply to join the Program.


You can download the RFP here

The AgritechNZ Lifetime Achievement Award

The AgritechNZ Lifetime Achievement Award

Jacqui and I were delighted to receive the first Agritech NZ Lifetime Achievement Award in Auckland last week.

The Award had actually been announced at a Ministerial Dinner hosted at NZ Parliament back in August. Unfortunately, Jacqui and I were on a 2-month tour of Europe meeting different agrifoodtech players in the region. It’s a huge honour and we are both deeply grateful for it.

When we first launched Agritech NZ back in 2018, I don’t think either of us imagined just how big and influential a voice it would become for the sector. Securing the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan support from government back in 2020 was a key milestone for us. We believe it’s a key foundation piece as to where the sector is today.

In 2019, we co-founded the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council. I remain a founding member of AgriFuture’s Australia evokeAG steering committee and am deeply honoured by that role. It began our global path. In June this year, we co-hosted the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit with our US partners, Western Growers. We are already planning the 2024 Summit, slated for 25-26 June 2024.

We continue to apply a global lens to everything we do. We believe that continues to support our original decision to help grow New Zealand’s agritech sector. If we attempt to do that in isolation, we will fail. We strongly believe that it is only through collaborating with international partners that New Zealand’s agritech sector will reach its true potential.

SAVE THE DATE: The 2024 Salinas Biological Summit

SAVE THE DATE: The 2024 Salinas Biological Summit

Wharf42 and Western Growers are delighted to announce the dates of the 2024 Salinas Biological Summit.

The Summit will take place in Salinas on 25-25 June, 2024. Following this year’s sell-out event, we are excited about the opportunity to build on what we achieved in June. This will become an annual event, supported by growers everywhere. All too often, agritech-focused conferences miss the grower input. We aim to put them at the center of the conversation.

As the call from regulators and consumers for ‘less chemicals, more biologicals’ grow, we will once again invite international experts to take to the stage. We learnt lessons in 2023 and this will mean more delegate engagement in 2024.

To receive regular updates as we build the Summit Program, please register your interest at

The 2024 Summit is going to be a blast!

The 2023 Salinas Biological Summit Delivers!

The 2023 Salinas Biological Summit Delivers!

After two days of compelling presentations, insightful panel discussions and extensive networking, the verdict is finally in. The 2023 Salinas Biological Summit delivered!

Wharf42 and Western Growers would both like to thank all the Summit sponsors, speakers and delegates for helping build a long-term platform that will assist growers address both soil and plant health opportunities. Plans are already underway for developing the program for the 2024 Salinas Biological Summit.

We recorded every minute of the two-day event to provide long-term access to its awesome content. You can view the Summit sessions by visiting Program | Wharf42 Limited (

We’ll be launching the 2024 Salinas Biological Summit later this year. Check out our social media channels for more information.

We very much look forward to meeting you then!