Register for the Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge Finale and the Announcement of Winners – Friday 30 October

Register for the Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge Finale and the Announcement of Winners – Friday 30 October

Wharf42 is delighted to be an official sponsor of the Bridge Hub 2020 trans-Tasman Water Challenge. At 2.00pm this Friday (30 October), you can join us online as we announce the winner of the New Zealand start-up category.

We will be joined in person by the other New Zealand official sponsor, Zespri, who will be announcing the winner of the New Zealand research category.

The Water Challenge has attracted an amazing array of start-ups and research projects from around both Australia and New Zealand. Water is one of our most critical natural resources and with climate change creating more extreme weather events, including extended periods of drought, it is one of agriculture’s #1 issues. The 2020 Water Challenge has produced a wide range of exciting solutions designed to tackle the key issues of water availability, management and quality.

On Friday, we will not only be announcing the winners of the two key New Zealand categories, we’ll be announcing the Australian category winners. You will have the opportunity to hear their pitch and also hear from Vic Crone & David Thodey, co-leaders of the Innovation Sector Group within the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum. It promises to be a an inspiring virtual event.The 2020 Water Challenge Finale and the Announcement of Winners runs from 2.00pm – 2.30pm (NZT).

To join us on Friday, simply register your (free) spot at https://waterchallengefinale.eventbrite.com.au. We look forward to seeing you (virtually of course) then.

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 growAG and the commercialisation of publicly-funded agri-focused research

Introducing growAG and the commercialisation of publicly-funded agri-focused research

For the past three years, I’ve sat on the evokeAG steering committee. A product of AgriFutures Australia, the team successfully hosted two significant events in 2019 and 2020 in Melbourne. Over 200 kiwis attended evokeAG and but for COVID, we’d be heading to Perth in 2021.

The pandemic and closed borders have meant a delay. Perth and sadly, the Little Creatures brewery in Fremantle, will now have to wait until February 2022. The evokeAG brand and network meanwhile continues to grow.

At evokeAG 2019, Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud made reference to a nascent initiative called growAG. During COVID lockdown, growAG grew (pardon the pun). Once again, AgriFutures Australia asked me if I would join its steering committee to be part of the conversation.

As context, growAG is a powerful online innovation marketplace for Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) and other research organisations and inventors to ‘list’ technologies and attract investment and commercialisation partners from around the world. growAG provides a one-stop-shop for the private sector in Australia, and from around the world, to connect to the RDCs and other researcher organisations in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region.

The timing is significant. In New Zealand, the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) has ‘Commercialisation’ as one of its key workstreams. The Plan says, and I quote, ‘New Zealand’s significant investments into agritech R&D are not resulting in a significant flow of companies and product spin-outs. More work is needed to increase our understanding of commercialisation of research, and ensure our world-class research is well utilised and exploited’. The Plan goes onto say; ‘There is currently IP in research institutes that has the potential for commercial value. This IP may not have been commercialised due to a number of reasons including undervaluing or overvaluing the IP; lack of effective mechanisms for researchers to transition into and/or back out of a new business; lack of effective commercialisation partners and/or business models’.

The similarity between some of the outcomes sought in the Plan and growAG are striking. Both Australia and New Zealand have world-leading science and research capability. Our ability however to commercialise the valuable outcomes and IP generated has, in my view, fallen well short of the opportunity that could have been generated. It’s a challenge both countries are addressing. By talking to each other, it’s one more metric that could assist both the region and each country develop an effective and long-term solution designed to take great science and light up the agrifood sector. I’m delighted to be able to contribute to the growAG discussion.

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.

Accelerating trans-Tasman collaboration as ‘Senior Advisor’ to the Australian Agritech Association

Accelerating trans-Tasman collaboration as ‘Senior Advisor’ to the Australian Agritech Association

Last week, I was offered and accepted the role of ‘Senior Advisor’ to the Australian Agritech Association.

It’s a hugely exciting opportunity to work with a bunch of passionate people I know well on the other side of the Tasman. I’ve said for some time that the global landscape will look quite different post-COVID. As borders slowly re-open, there will be a much more significant focus on developing trans-Tasman regional capability. This will not only secure improved ‘local’ supply chains; it will position the region as a significant agritech player in the global market.

Over the past few weeks, a number of significant initiatives have been announced by the Federal government in Canberra aimed at expanding Australia’s agri-innovation capabilities. Many of these have focused on accelerating the commercialisation of research being undertaken by the country’s 15 RDCs (Research & Development Corporations). This is important. As we have learnt in New Zealand however, an effective national agritech ecosystem cannot be built without the active engagement, and often the leadership of industry. The successful launch of New Zealand’s Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) in July was testament to that.

The Board of the Australian Agritech Association are doing a fantastic job in promoting the sector. The announcements out of Canberra have added a sense of urgency to their task and I’m delighted to be able to share some of the experiences we developed in the creation of Agritech New Zealand. As Kenneth Irons, Chair of Agritech New Zealand said in the organisation’s October newsletter, ‘Agritech New Zealand and AusAgritech are forging deeper and better relations at both association and individual member level’.

Last September, I helped launch the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council. Little did we know then what the next 12 months would bring. Timing though, as they say, is everything. COVID has changed the global landscape beyond recognition and the opportunity to build an effective and collaborative trans-Tasman agritech sector is real.

You can learn more about the Australian Agritech Association and its mission here.

Working with GlobalHQ to spread New Zealand’s Agritech Story

Working with GlobalHQ to spread New Zealand’s Agritech Story

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been delighted to work with GlobalHQ and some of their great brands to help spread New Zealand’s Agritech Story.

A couple of weeks back, Jacqui and I met up with Dean Williamson and members of the team in Fielding. Since then, we’ve helped produce editorial content for;

For us, it’s hugely important that New Zealand’s food producers; farmers, growers and orchardists, get a better understanding of just how emerging agricultural technologies can help increase productivity, improve profitability and ensure long-term sustainability.

As a trusted brand and a voice that food producers can relate to, GlobalHQ has an important role to play.

COVID-19 has demonstrated once again just how important New Zealand agriculture is to the country’s economy. During lockdown, our dairy, our beef & lamb and our numerous horticultural players continued to produce premium product and secure significant export earnings. To those who have questioned the future of New Zealand ag, there but for the grace of god etc. etc.

Despite its terrible human toll, the global pandemic is today creating new opportunities for New Zealand’s agritech sector. In conversations I am having with global partners, issues around food supply and food security are becoming more significant priorities for governments around the world. It’s an opportunity that New Zealand agritech is well placed to serve.

Getting that Story told beyond our closed borders is incredibly important. It’s also important that we share that Story with our producers at home. GlobalHQ is doing just that.

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.

Save the Date: The 2020 NZ Young Farmers Annual Conference

Save the Date: The 2020 NZ Young Farmers Annual Conference

It’s time to get out the diary and lock in the dates. I’m excited about the opportunity of speaking at the 2020 NZ Young Farmers Annual Conference.

The conference will take place at the Novotel Tainui Hamilton on Friday 20th & Saturday 21st November. On Friday, I’ll be talking about The Global Landscape for New Zealand Agritech. It maps the key theme of this year’s conference; The Future of Food and Fibre – a focus on global drivers of change (consumer, social, political, financial, environmental), and the local implications of this for our future farmers and industry leaders.

About New Zealand Young Farmers

New Zealand Young Farmers is a national membership organisation. It provides opportunities for young people with an interest in the rural and primary industry sectors to reach their potential through participation in social, education and leadership development activities and events throughout New Zealand at community, regional and national levels. Formed in 1932, New Zealand Young Farmers is a registered charitable organisation governed by a Board made up of Young Farmer members and strategic primary industry partners.

The New Zealand Young Farmers’ membership is the lifeblood of the organisation. Most of its members are spread across  70+ Young Farmers Clubs with members aged between 16-31 years, its TeenAg Clubs (14-18 years), and AgriKids members (8-13 years). The organisation also have connections with New Zealand Young Farmers Alumni who remain engaged with New Zealand Young Farmers.

Last month, I was inspired to take part in AgriFuture Australia’s Horizon Programme Virtual Summit. This was designed to support the next generation of leaders that will drive the future prosperity of Australian rural industries and communities. I expect to be similarly inspired in November. The NZ Young Farmers Annual Conference provides a great platform for meeting and engaging with some of New Zealand’s future farming leaders.

Tickets go on sale on 6 October. I’ll be publishing a link to the Registration page on that date.