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.

Wharf42 2021 Preview: Building global agritech networks from behind closed borders

Wharf42 2021 Preview: Building global agritech networks from behind closed borders

Welcome to Wharf42’s first news release of 2021.

The global COVID pandemic is accelerating and New Zealand’s borders remain tightly closed. Wharf42 understands the impact that closed borders are creating for agritech businesses in New Zealand, across the Tasman in Australia and in the wider Asia Pacific Rim.

Over the past 4 months, we have expanded our offshore reach. As of today, we are;

Over the Christmas & New Year festive break, we have worked to connect these dots. By developing a strong regional Asia Pacific Rim cluster – New Zealand, Australia & Singapore, we are looking at opening up new channels for creating significant opportunities for increased research and commercialisation collaboration.

The question some folk ask is why. It takes us back to our core values.

The global COVID pandemic and closed borders are doing nothing to assist address some of the world’s greatest long-term challenges:

  • Feeding 9.6 billion people with nutritious and affordable food by 2050
  • Addressing the real and ongoing impact of climate change
  • Identifying new ways to farm more productively and more sustainably
  • Researching for new forms of alternative protein

We believe that by building scale and creating the opportunity for greater cross-border collaboration, we can collectively begin to tackle some of these major challenges. In Q1 2021, we will be seeking to expand our global network beyond the Asia Pacific Rim. Discussions are already underway with potential partners in North America and Europe. As the opportunity for creating international travel bubbles from New Zealand recede, building global networks from behind closed borders is today our #1 goal.

Whatever the new year might bring, Jacqui and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a safe and prosperous 2021.

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.

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.

 

Wharf42 Revisited!

Wharf42 Revisited!

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.