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.
On Friday, Jacqui and I stepped down from our respective roles as Executive Director and Projects Director at Agritech New Zealand.
We’re delighted that the new Executive Council has appointed Brendan O’Connell as Interim CEO. We’ve known Brendan for a long time and look forward to supporting him through the transition.
Today, we start our new role at the organisation. For one day a week (Monday), we will be heading up Global Alliances. This maps our new focus on supporting New Zealand agritech businesses face up to the reality of closed borders and a rapidly changing offshore market environment. The world in March 2021 will be a very different place from the world in March 2020.
This does of course leave us with four ‘free’ days a week. At this point, it’s basically a blank canvas. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be spending quite a bit of that time developing Wharf42 Insights. This will be 100% focused on identifying specific global opportunities for the sector as well as developing a capability building programme to support it. This time will also see an increase in engagement with our friends and partners across the Tasman. Building a stronger regional agritech community was one of the founding principles of the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council.
The last three years have been a blast and we leave our full-time roles in the knowledge that Agritech New Zealand is in a really good place. With a growing membership and the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan across the line, the organisation can now leverage the opportunity and build on the foundations built over the past 3 three years.
For the past two years, Wharf42 has been contracting to NZTech to lead and manage Agritech New Zealand.
For Jacqui and myself, that journey had started a long time before. We had been engaging with kiwi and offshore agritech players since 2015 to lay down the foundations for the launch back in 2018.
The last two years have been a blast. We’ve seen the integration of the Precision Agriculture Association of NZ (PAANZ) into Agritech New Zealand; $11.4M of government funding to support the delivery and implementation of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP); the emergence of some great global partnerships and connections, and a recognition that agritech has a key role of play in New Zealand’s economic recovery going forward.
We’ve also had the COVID-19 pandemic. During lockdown, Jacqui and I assessed the potential impact on New Zealand’s agritech sector. We received many calls for help from agritech businesses who were struggling to navigate the sudden downturn. Offshore market development plans were put into hibernation and business plans were being rapidly re-written. Whilst we put on a series of 8 webinars at lockdown levels 4 & 3, attracting over 2,200 attendees, and organised a sector wide survey on resilience, we knew we had to do more.
Ultimately that would require us to provide 100% focus on what I guess we do best. Based on our own background, we knew we had to look offshore to address the impact of closed borders and start re-engaging with our global networks on a full-time basis.
Wharf42 is once again the vehicle that will drive that engagement. Through this website and the blogs that we post, you can join us on our journey. We are incredibly optimistic about the opportunities facing our sector. By reaching out to our offshore partners and friends, we believe that New Zealand’s agritech community – industry, research & government – can take a global thought leadership role that will be truly ‘good for the world’.
It’s an exciting prospect and is one that we intend to deliver.
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.