Have you entered the 2021 New Zealand Most Innovative Hi-Tech Agritech Solution Category? Applications are open now.

Have you entered the 2021 New Zealand Most Innovative Hi-Tech Agritech Solution Category? Applications are open now.

Undoubtedly one of my favourite NZ Tech events of the year. Sadly I missed tonight’s Auckland launch at PwC, but that’s the price of being based in Tauranga 🙂

If case you missed that post, you can read it here: Living the Tauranga dream. Why we do it. | Wharf 42

Once again, I’ve been asked to be a judge in this year’s Agritech Category with an esteemed group of peers. We are inviting New Zealand agritech companies to submit applications so that we have the chance to review some of the amazing innovation and technology emerging from Aotearoa’s finest.

To be eligible for this category, you need to be a registered NZ company and qualify against at least two of the following criteria:

  • Founded in NZ
  • Headquartered in NZ (the location of your global head office)
  • Have at least 20% of your employees reside in NZ

In entering this category:

  • You have developed a technology-based solution for use by those in the primary sector including (but not limited to) fishing, farming, forestry and horticulture.
  • Your Agritech solution is genuinely innovative and you can demonstrate how it’s positioned for future success.
  • You will be able to provide evidence of at least one commercial sale in the last calendar year; ending 31 December 2020.
  • Upon request, you will promptly supply the judges with evidence to support any claims made in this entry and be able to prove that:
    • The solution was designed in NZ
    • Your company owns or has rights to use the IP
The Award category is sponsored by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. Previous winners include Compac Sorting (2020), Robotics Plus (2019), Gallagher Group (2018), Outpost Central (2017)

Being a finalist in these Awards provides a great opportunity for agritech businesses to raise their profile in both the domestic market and offshore. The final selection process for each category includes input from invited International Judges who join the local NZ judging team.

You can enter online by visiting: Most Innovative Hi-Tech Agritech Solution — NZ Hi-Tech Awards

I very much hope you enter and look forward to meeting all the finalists in this category at the Hi-Tech Awards Gala Dinner at the Spark Arena in Auckland on Friday 28 May.

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.

Living the Tauranga dream. Why we do it.

Living the Tauranga dream. Why we do it.

Over the past few years, I’ve been frequently asked, why Tauranga? Why not move to Auckland or Wellington and be closer to the action?

With the mercury set to hit 31c today and as New Zealand slowly gets back to work following the extended Xmas / New Year / Summer vacation break, its time to answer the question.

Whilst most folk think of Tauranga as being the Mount main beach and a holiday mecca, I want to focus on its position as one of New Zealand’s most significant agritech and entrepreneurial hotspots.

And look ahead to its prospects for 2021.

To provide the platform for the city’s agritech ecosystem, it’s fair to say that our horticultural heritage and production has a large role to play. Home to the country’s multi-billion dollar kiwifruit sector, Tauranga is also home to Zespri, PlantTech, Robotics Plus, Radford Software, BlueLab, GPS-it, Cucumber, Trimax and a host of other agritech businesses, including public sector players such as Plant & Food Research and the University of Waikato. Together, these research and business organisations are transforming the productivity and sustainability of our orchards and contributing significantly towards the development of new export markets.

In order to grow the city and region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, it’s important to have the investment and funding mechanisms in place to support its growth. Tauranga has this in spades.

At the pre-seed stage, we have WNT Ventures, one of New Zealand’s 4 technology incubators. (Disclosure; Wharf42 is the ‘W’ of WNT). Over the past 6 years, we have invested in a number of early stage businesses and are currently in the process of closing its biggest funding round to-date, Fund 3. In terms of portfolio, think of the likes of Mint Innovation, Avertana, Nyriad, Mastaplex, Foundry Lab, MaramaLabs and Argo Navis.

Enterprise Angels is one of New Zealand’s largest angel networks, providing support and investment into a number of the country’s leading early stage companies. Check out their portfolio here. Additionally, Enterprise Angels recently launched Purpose Capital. With $20M already committed, this promises to be New Zealand’s largest Impact fund.

Oriens Capital invest in new equity capital to enable existing businesses with good intellectual capital and a strong market position the opportunity to expand. BlueLab is a great example of a local agritech company who has benefited from this investment. As is Rockit Global.

Quayside Holdings and Craig Investment Partners look after the more established end of the market, although Quayside also plays an active role in WNT & Oriens.

Pulling a lot of these dots together is Priority One, the region’s Economic Development Agency. Wharf42 has been a member of ‘P1’ since our formation back in 2012. It plays a hugely influential role in helping develop the region’s long-term growth strategy. As we head into 2021, this combination of deep agritech talent, genuine sector collaboration and local investment capacity is going to accelerate the growth of the sector in the region and across New Zealand.

Add to this heady mix, local start-up and entrepreneur ecosystem builder, Venture Centre, expanding co-working spaces such as Basestation and a very proactive, Tauranga Chamber of Commerce and you have a connected, vibrant and expansive entrepreneur ecosystem. For the Bay, these are exciting times.

And if you are still wondering why Wharf42 is based in Tauranga and not Auckland or Wellington and still don’t quite get it, pop down the Mount’s main beach one day and I’ll explain.

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.

Super Early Bird Pricing for the E Tipu 2021 Agri Summit ends 31 January. Save 40% on General Admission prices!

Super Early Bird Pricing for the E Tipu 2021 Agri Summit ends 31 January. Save 40% on General Admission prices!

The E Tipu 2021 Boma NZ Agri Summit is slated to be the largest focused agritech event in New Zealand this year. E Tipu 2021 is designed to bring together people who work across New Zealand’s entire food and fibre sector, from the start of the supply chain to the finished products.

If you’re a farmer, producer, innovator, supplier, researcher, educator, student, government or finance worker looking at how to grow Aotearoa’s agriculture industry amidst exponential changes, you won’t want to miss it.

The programme is well advanced with a number of local and international speakers taking to the stage and of course, the family favourite, ZOOM. With funding support from major partners including Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, the Ministry of Primary Industries and ChristchurchNZ, E Tipu 2021 is going to absolutely rock!

I’ve been fortunate to have been invited to join a few other amazing people to engage in the event’s ‘Brains Trust’. We are working with the conference organisers to help develop the programme and identify leading experts to help deliver it. To provide a platform for maximum delegate engagement, as well as the main plenary conference, the event will host both interactive sessions and workshops.

Back though to the Super Early Bird Pricing. Buy your ticket before 31 January (i.e. this week) and pay $599, plus GST. Buy after 1 February and pay $699, plus GST. Buy after 20 March and pay $799, plus GST. Buy after 1 May and pay $999, plus GST.

Point made!

You can book your Super Early Bird ticket here.

The team at Wharf42 will be attending and we very much hope to see you in Christchurch. In 2019, over 600 people attended the inaugural Boma NZ Agri Conference. This year, I’m expecting a larger number of attendees as progressive New Zealanders seek to support Aotearoa’s food and fibre ecosystem thrive in a changing world.

The Surprise Package?

And there is of course that possibility that those progressive New Zealanders could be joined by a bunch of progressive Australians. It’s interesting that the last formal offshore agritech mission undertaken by kiwis pre-lockdown was to the 2020 evokeAG conference in Melbourne. If our borders with Australia are re-opened before May (quarantine-free), I would expect a number of our friends across the Tasman to take the flight to Christchurch.

I discussed the opportunity at a recent Australian Agritech Association board meeting and the interest was obvious. With the evokeAG conference in Perth now postponed until February 2022, it would be a great opportunity to accelerate the trans-Tasman opportunity. And great for New Zealand to host!

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

Check out the new look evokeAG portal. Looking for NZ agritech content!

Check out the new look evokeAG portal. Looking for NZ agritech content!

  AgriFutures Australia has just launched its new look evokeAG portal at www.evokeag.com

I’m excited! As a member of the evokeAG steering committee, it’s great to see how the ‘product’ is developing.

We should of course, have been packing our bags for the 2021 evokeAG conference in Perth next month. COVID kicked that into touch, postponing the conference until February 2022 and so it was important that the impact generated by the first two conferences in Melbourne was maintained. 2 years between events is a long time.

The decision was taken last year to build the evokeAG portal to provide round the year coverage of agritech events taking place in Australia, New Zealand and our Pacific Island neighbours. The conferences will still take place, but the two days will now be supported by 365/24 real-time updates.

The portal is packed with interesting content. You can read about it, watch it or just listen to it. It has a BIG audience and the plan is to socialise its existence to an even larger global market.

One of AgriFutures Australia’s key dynamics has always been to support the trans-Tasman opportunity. It was reflected in the two conferences in Melbourne and has been reinforced in the new portal.

So this is the ASK. If you are a New Zealand agritech business or research organisation and have a great story to tell, please share it. I spoke to the team at AgriFutures this morning and they are keen to learn more about key developments and interesting stories on this side of the Tasman.

To find out more, visit www.evokeag.com.

If you want to spread your word so that people in the wider community can learn about your story, the evokeAG portal is now open for business. If you want any advice about the next steps, please just drop me a note via our Contact page.

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


Your opportunity to connect directly with Western Growers!

Your opportunity to connect directly with Western Growers!

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to and share information with Walt Duflock, Vice President of Innovation, Western Growers and Dennis Donohue, Director of the Western Growers Innovation and Technology Center in Salinas.

The focus of this discussion has been in preparation for a major announcement and initiative launch that Western Growers (WGA) will be hosting on 11 February.

Over the past five years, I’ve interacted with WGA on a regular basis. The challenges that their members face are well-known and a New Zealand agritech delegation had the opportunity to meet many of these growers during the Forbes Live conference back in June 2019. The image above shows some of the Kiwi delegation on a romaine property in the heart of Salinas Valley.

In advance of the 11 February announcements, Western Growers are asking startups (and scaleups) who are engaged in crop robotics and automation to complete a survey to help them identify early stage companies who are building products and working in the field. They are gathering this information to be able to share with WGA members.

Both Walt and Dennis understand the capability and expertise that exists ‘down-under’. By completing the survey below, early stage companies that work in this space will be able to share their information directly with WGA.

Being ‘down-under’ is NOT a disadvantage. WGA know that in order to address some of the major challenges members face, particularly around harvesting, they need to look at global solutions that can help address local problems. The main advantage that early stage companies in the southern hemisphere have is the counter seasonal opportunity. One can run a pilot programme in California, Arizona or Nevada during the northern hemisphere harvesting (picking) season and then refine the technology on southern hemisphere properties 6 months later.

Completing this survey will provide WGA with the information they need to know about your business and the technology you are either developing or have developed. With Western Growers members accounting for the production of more than 50% of all North American fresh produce; fruit, vegetables, nuts, organics, this is a major commercial pathway opportunity.

If you are developing robotics or automation technologies for the specialty crop market and are looking to expand your global footprint, this is one heck of a great way to start 2021!

You can access the survey here: Field Automation Startup Survey (research.net)