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.

Honoured to receive the Agritech NZ Lifetime Achievement Award

Honoured to receive the Agritech NZ Lifetime Achievement Award

Overnight, I was delighted and honoured to be presented with the first ever Agritech NZ Lifetime Achievement Award at New Zealand’s Parliament.

In the very best Oscar tradition, Jacqui and I were unfortunately unable to attend in person. We are currently in the UK, midway through a 3-month tour of key offshore agritech markets, promoting the Global Biological Accelerator we are building with our US-based partners, Western Growers.

When Jacqui and I began to develop the Agritech New Zealand model back in 2016, we could not really have envisaged just how significant it would become. By bringing together industry, research & government, it set a gold standard for sector development that is now being copied around the world.

The organisation’s launch in 2018 would not have been possible without the support of some key New Zealand stakeholders. I have to commend the significant contribution made by some of our earliest supporters. Dion CawoodRob HeebinkKevin CooneySimon YarrowJason ReevesGraeme MullerEvelyn Seewald & David Walker.

For Jacqui and myself, the formal launch of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan in July 2020 with Ministers Damien OConnor & Phil Twyford at Zespri International was a key milestone for both the organisation and the sector. Hat doffed to our key NZ government agency collaborators, David Downs & Arek ‘The Great’ for helping make this happen.

The other key milestone in 2020 was the successful merger of Agritech New Zealand and the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand. It created a single entity to advance the growth and development of the country’s AgriFoodTech sector.

Today, Agritech NZ is ably led Brendan O’ConnellKylie HoromiaBridgit Hawkins and the Agritech NZ Executive Committee. I can honestly say that the universal feedback I receive from offshore partners, is that New Zealand remains the Gold Standard for agritech ecosystem development. I believe it provides a significant platform for the organisation to take a global leadership role in addressing some of the key challenges facing farmers and growers both at home and worldwide.

Last night’s award was hugely appreciated by Jacqui and myself. Kudos to everyone involved in the development of New Zealand’s agritech sector. Our role is now to support that message in global markets and build not only New Zealand’s but also the wider trans-Tasman region’s offshore profile.

Together, we can make this happen!

Agritech New Zealand – The Changing of the Guard

Agritech New Zealand – The Changing of the Guard

As recorded elsewhere on this website, Wharf42’s agritech journey began in Silicon Valley in the summer of 2015. Jacqui and I recognised that venture investment into the agritech space was increasing exponentially, but very little of this capital was finding its way to New Zealand.

Fast forward three years and we launched Agritech New Zealand in May 2018. Over the past two years, we have grown the organisation to 140+ members, representing a wide cross-section of stakeholders engaged in the sector. The launch of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) in our home city of Tauranga, was a fitting fulfillment of our five years of work.

Agritech New Zealand now has the opportunity to engage its members with the delivery and implementation of the Plan. It has also been an opportunity for Jacqui and I to reassess our own longer term goals and ambition for the sector.

The world we live in today is very different to the one we enjoyed only six months ago. COVID-19 means that closed borders are likely to remain closed for some time. The impact on our export sector is significant and reaching out to our offshore networks has become our #1 priority.

Yesterday, we formally advised Graeme Muller, CEO of NZTech, of our decision to stand down as Agritech New Zealand’s Executive Director and Projects Director respectively. We will continue to fulfill these roles over the coming weeks as we secure a successful transition of leadership. We do not intend however to leave the ship!

We are working with Graeme and our Executive Council to create a new part-time role. We’ve yet to come up with a name for it but essentially, we will focus exclusively on developing Agritech New Zealand’s global footprint. This reflects our own view that now is the time for New Zealand, despite our closed borders, to step up and say to the world, ‘we are open for business’.

We are hugely excited by the potential opportunities that this career pivot will bring.

You can follow us on this journey via the updated posts we publish to this site. It’s an impact we are once again determined to deliver.

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