As Wharf42 prepares to pivot to a more globally-focused role, lessons from 40+ years ago come back into view.

The UK had been a member of the Common Market for just 6 years. I was Vice-Chair of the European Democrat Students (EDS) and was engaged in several pan-European initiatives. There’s nothing quite like meeting the folk from Komsomol in your early twenties. These were interesting times.

I learnt early on about the importance of collaboration and partnerships. I sat firmly in the ‘United Europe’ camp and in order to progress this, engagement with like-minded organisations and individuals across Europe was critical. It meant that I spent much of my time speaking to different people from different countries across Western Europe. (Remember – the iron curtain was still for real). One of our major ‘wins’ was the establishment of the European Youth Parliament in Strasbourg.

These discussions often reflected the cultural differences that existed within the region. One could identify the Scandinavians together as a fairly united group. Likewise the northern and southern European blocks. Recognising these differences and acknowledging them was an important part of the engagement process. These were important lessons.

In some ways, these have also been reflected in the establishment of Agritech New Zealand. Different stakeholders i.e industry, research, government and investment have different needs. Recognising those different needs and building programmes to support them was a key requirement.

Today, the challenges we face are very different to those back in the late 1970’s, but no less daunting. Closed borders mean adopting a new mindset, and for Wharf42, building a stronger regional platform is a key component in this.

Over the coming weeks and months, expect more talk about the Trans-Tasman partnership and the benefits this will offer both New Zealand and Australia’s agritech ecosystems longer-term. Positioning ourselves as a key global agritech hub will be a major ‘win’ in the years ahead.

The Australia New Zealand Agritech Council has a major role to play. For Wharf42, it’s a pivot worth taking.

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