The Wharf42 podcast on last night’s Sarah’s Country

The Wharf42 podcast on last night’s Sarah’s Country

It was great to join Sarah Perriam last night on the Sarah’s Country live TV broadcast.

Sarah wanted to learn more about my time as Executive Director of Agritech New Zealand and what lies ahead now that I have stood down from the role. It gave me the opportunity to talk briefly about the successful launch of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan as well as my new focus on delivering comprehensive trans-Tasman agritech collaboration and an expanding global footprint. Plus a not so subtle plug for the amazing agritech ecosystem in the Bay of Plenty!

In case you missed it, you can view the 10 minute interview below.


The Bridge Hub Trans-Tasman Water Challenge Research Finalists Announced!

The Bridge Hub Trans-Tasman Water Challenge Research Finalists Announced!

The Bridge Hub & Wharf42 are excited to announce the eight research finalists from Australia and New Zealand who have progressed to the next round of the Bridge Hub 2020 Trans-Tasman Water Challenge Research Stream.

The purpose of the Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge has been to uncover the best and brightest research, the most innovative ideas and the best startups that positively impact water sustainability within our agrisystem. The Water Challenge was launched in July by the Hon Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and the Hon Phil Twyford, Minister for Economic Development in New Zealand.

Finalists will now progress to the next round which includes a two week workshop series being delivered in partnership with Callaghan Innovation and the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN). CSIRO, the Australian Research Stream sponsor and Zespri, the New Zealand Research Stream sponsor will be involved in the next round of judging to take place.

One Australian research winner and one New Zealand research winner will each receive a cash prize of $25,000. Blue River Group will invest up to $100,000 into the commercial outcome of the prize winning research from each country. So drum roll. Who are the New Zealand research contenders in the Water Challenge final? Many congratulations to;

  • Nitrate removal to safeguard water quality
    Associate Professor David Leung
    University of Canterbury, NZ

  • EFF-GO – 21st Century Solution for 21st Century Waste
    Dr Peter Dyer
    Callaghan Innovation, NZ

  • Real-time control of irrigation through acoustic sensing to prevent runoff and pollution
    Dr Chandra Ghimire
    AgResearch Ltd, NZ

It’s been a fantastic honour to work with the Bridge Hub to identify some of the ground-breaking research work being undertaken in both Australia and New Zealand to address this critical issue. To the nine other New Zealand research organisation submissions, we will continue to work with you to assist deliver real value to our agribusiness sector.

If you want to learn more about the ongoing development of the Wharf42 Insights Programme and other initiatives currently being kept under wraps, please sign up for our free Monthly Newsletter.

Introducing AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship

Introducing AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship

Last night, I was invited to take part in an online networking session with 35 Horizon Scholars.

For some context, since 2011, the Horizon Scholarship Program has been integral in developing and supporting the next generation of ag leaders, game changers and thought makers of Australian agriculture. The program takes the best and brightest university students from across the country and provides them with financial support along with significant opportunities for personal development, growth and networking opportunities.

A key component of the Program traditionally is its annual four-day workshop covering a range of topics including;

  • Emerging food industries
  • Understanding the Australian agricultural landscape.
  • Innovation & agritech
  • Community Trust
  • Industry networking

This year, COVID-19 meant that the program has had to pivot to virtual. There was a second novel addition to this year’s agenda.

  • Understanding the New Zealand agritech landscape and the opportunity for trans-Tasman collaboration.

This is where I came in. Over ZOOM, my sessions were based on a speed networking model where I met 1 – 2 Horizon Scholars at a time in a virtual breakout room. There were multiple rounds of networking, together thankfully with breaks. Given the different time zones, it was a long night. There was no set agenda for each session. Rather an opportunity for the Scholars to ask me questions, explore new avenues and expand their networks.

Thanks to Georgina at AgriFutures for inviting me to take part. It was great to meet such inspiring young ag leaders. To my cohort; Anna, Sacha, Matt, Julia & Andrew, I look forward to staying in contact. The conversations were as informative to me as I hope they were to the Scholars.

In the words of my colleagues in the US. ‘Good job’!

If you want to learn more about the ongoing development of the Wharf42 Insights Programme and other initiatives currently being kept under wraps, please sign up for our free Monthly Newsletter.

Lessons Learnt from 40 Years Ago

Lessons Learnt from 40 Years Ago

As Wharf42 prepares to pivot to a more globally-focused role, lessons from 40+ years ago come back into view.

The UK had been a member of the Common Market for just 6 years. I was Vice-Chair of the European Democrat Students (EDS) and was engaged in several pan-European initiatives. There’s nothing quite like meeting the folk from Komsomol in your early twenties. These were interesting times.

I learnt early on about the importance of collaboration and partnerships. I sat firmly in the ‘United Europe’ camp and in order to progress this, engagement with like-minded organisations and individuals across Europe was critical. It meant that I spent much of my time speaking to different people from different countries across Western Europe. (Remember – the iron curtain was still for real). One of our major ‘wins’ was the establishment of the European Youth Parliament in Strasbourg.

These discussions often reflected the cultural differences that existed within the region. One could identify the Scandinavians together as a fairly united group. Likewise the northern and southern European blocks. Recognising these differences and acknowledging them was an important part of the engagement process. These were important lessons.

In some ways, these have also been reflected in the establishment of Agritech New Zealand. Different stakeholders i.e industry, research, government and investment have different needs. Recognising those different needs and building programmes to support them was a key requirement.

Today, the challenges we face are very different to those back in the late 1970’s, but no less daunting. Closed borders mean adopting a new mindset, and for Wharf42, building a stronger regional platform is a key component in this.

Over the coming weeks and months, expect more talk about the Trans-Tasman partnership and the benefits this will offer both New Zealand and Australia’s agritech ecosystems longer-term. Positioning ourselves as a key global agritech hub will be a major ‘win’ in the years ahead.

The Australia New Zealand Agritech Council has a major role to play. For Wharf42, it’s a pivot worth taking.

If you want to learn more about the ongoing development of the Wharf42 Insights Programme and other initiatives currently being kept under wraps, please sign up for our free Monthly Newsletter.

Celebrating Outstanding Talent at the 2020 NZ Hi-Tech Awards

Celebrating Outstanding Talent at the 2020 NZ Hi-Tech Awards

Last night was a night to remember. Jacqui and I had planned to attend the 2020 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards in-person at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland. Not for the first time this year, COVID-19 decided to play an un-supporting role. Instead of hosting an in-person event, the organisers had just 10 days to transit to virtual. They did an awesome job.

For the second year running, I was a judge for the NZTE Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Agritech Sector category. My fellow judges and I had selected four finalists from the large number of entries. Given the high quality of submissions this had in itself been a task. We had however to make the call and our final four were;

Last night, Compac were announced as the worthy winners of the category. Compac provides integrated post-harvest solutions and services to the global fresh produce industry. The company’s mission is to enable its customers to improve returns, gain operational efficiencies and ensure a safe food supply via the application of smart, useable technologies.

My congratulations to the other three finalists and to all the other agritech businesses who had entered. It confirmed what I already knew. New Zealand has an outstanding array of agritech businesses addressing some of the really big challenges facing farmers and growers everywhere.

Given that we had to dial into the event from Tauranga, we had decided to make the most of it. If we couldn’t do black tie in Auckland, we would do black tie at home. We also decided to adopt a global view. Having spent 10 years owning HBI Software in India, we decided to dedicate some time to our adopted city of Bangalore. Go the Royal Challengers!

We had reason to celebrate further on the night. Mint Innovation, an investee company of WNT Ventures, won the Most Innovative Deep Tech Solution. I’ve posted about Mint before. They make up a highly impressive WNT Fund 1 portfolio which includes Avertana, Nyriad and Mastaplex.

We had been told by the organisers to make the most of the night and to celebrate in style. We took them at their word. Salmon, prawns and an array of other seafood was washed down by some of Marlborough’s finest. Kingfisher kindly sponsored our Bangalore outfits.

Next year, we hope to be able to attend the 2021 event in-person. Twitter doesn’t quite replace the intimacy of face to face. The good news for New Zealand and the rest of the world from last night’s event is this. Our tech sector is going from strength to strength in spite of the global pandemic. As we embark on our economic recovery, the growing tech sector means that New Zealand is well-placed to re-build and recover.

If you want to learn more about the ongoing development of the Wharf42 Insights Programme and other initiatives currently being kept under wraps, please sign up for our free Monthly Newsletter.