As sponsors of the Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge New Zealand Startup Steam Category, Jacqui and I were delighted to join James Muir, co-founder of RiverWatch, at Zespri HQ on Friday as the winners of the Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge were announced.

If you missed the virtual Finale which featured Vic Crone, CEO of Callaghan Innovation and David Thodey, Chair of CSIRO, you can view the presentation on YouTube here.

RiverWatch is the next generation of water quality monitoring, providing an easier, smarter way to gather water data.  An innovative, compact device, using the latest in remote sensing technology and IoT networks, delivering real time data straight to your phone or desktop. And with knowledge comes power, to make targeted changes to improve New Zealand’s declining fresh water quality.

James and his team were well deserved winners of the New Zealand startup stream category. An alumni of the Sprout Accelerator programme, they are addressing one of the most important environmental issues facing New Zealand and the world right now.

The 2020 Bridge Hub Water Challenge was the first major trans-Tasman agritech initiative. Over 120 entries were submitted from Australia and New Zealand in both startup and research categories. A further 20+ entries were submitted by startups and researchers based in Israel, a key ecosystem partner of the Bridge Hub. This interest reflects the absolute importance of water; it’s availability, management & quality for our agrifood sector. It is our most significant natural resource.

Working with our co-sponsors and partners in New Zealand, Zespri and Callaghan Innovation, has been a blast. Together, we have not only highlighted a major challenge that New Zealand and the world’s agrifood industry collectively face, we have also created the opportunity for a collaborative road map to address this challenge with partners across the Tasman.

So what’s next? Wharf42 intends to work with the Bridge Hub to build a collaborative network of researchers and startups working in this space. Both organisations recognise that the Challenge was far more than simply a one-off event. It provided the opportunity to build a community of like-minded organisations and individuals seeking to address one of the world’s most significant existential issues.

My final word goes to Bridge Hub and the team there; Craig, Di, Ethy & Grant. In what were very trying times, where closed borders within Australia added a new dimension to the word ‘trying’, the team never lost faith or focus on the Challenge. It’s been great working with the Bridge Hub and wearing Wharf42’s trans-Tasman lens, it provides a great platform for joint future initiatives.

Going forward, for all of us, the real work and the real opportunity begins now.