Agritech is unleashed at this year’s National Fieldays

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Agritech NZ is continuing its momentum with a major presence at this year’s National Fieldays in Hamilton.

The agriculture and technical grouping will be launching Agritech Unleashed at Fieldays in June, Bay of Plenty-based executive director Peter Wren-Hilton told Bay of Plenty Business News.

“Agritech Unleashed is the culmination of a significant amount of work over the past three years,” said Wren-Hilton.

“Not only does it provide a platform for industry and government to announce some key long-term initiatives for New Zealand’s agritech sector, it provides a unique opportunity to showcase some of our great companies and their technology to a global audience.”

Wren-Hilton said delegates from more than 40 countries were expected to attend National Fieldays this year.

“The Agritech Unleashed event will enable New Zealand companies to reach out, connect and engage with this audience.”

Agritech Unleashed will enable New Zealand to take a thought leadership issue across many of the major challenges facing the global agricultural sector.”

– Peter Wren-Hilton

Keynote speakers, including Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture and Minister for Biosecurity, Food Safety, and Rural Communities, will talk about New Zealand’s competitive advantage and how New Zealand’s agritech sector is today addressing key issues including developing more sustainable practices to improve food production, while reducing negative environmental impacts, said Wren-Hilton.

Supporting this initiative, some of the biggest names in global agritech are travelling to New Zealand to attend the event. Several have already agreed to take part in panel discussions, bringing global context to some of the opportunities and challenges being addressed by Agritech New Zealand. Agritech Unleashed is an invite only event.

“Agritech Unleashed will enable New Zealand to take a thought leadership issue across many of the major challenges facing the global agricultural sector.”

Agritech NZ’s membership involves virtually every key player in the New Zealand agritech sector. And the organisation is also a core member of the NZ Tech Alliance and works closely with other NZ Tech Alliance members, including NZTech, The IOT Alliance, The AI Forum, BiotechNZ, BlockchainNZ and FintechNZ.

Agritech NZ was working collaboratively to connect everything and everyone in NZ Agritech into a coherent community supporting the growth of agritech earnings, Wren-Hilton says.

The aspiration was for New Zealand’s agritech sector to be a global leader in science, technology and innovation, delivering commercial outcomes for the global primary sector. The challenges for the agritech sector – despite the wealth of smart agricultural technology in New Zealand, particularly in the Bay  – is that it has found it difficult to attract  inward investment and in export earnings has fallen behind global competitors such as Israel, Ireland, the Netherlands and USA, says Agritech NZ.

Agtech collaboration

Agritech NZ was working with everyone in the New Zealand agricultural technology space, Wren-Hilton, said, including several members of the Bay of Plenty’s PlantTech, one of four similar regional research initiatives that won funding under the previous government.

PlantTech aims to build regional and national capability in the application of advanced technologies to strengthen hi-tech exports. Priority One and the University of Waikato partnered with a consortium of eight local hi-tech focused businesses to create PlantTech, which reflects the strong agri-tech focus of the founding companies Bluelab, Cucumber, GPS-It, Eurofins, Plus Group Horticulture, Trimax Mowing Systems, Waka Digital and Zespri International. PlantTech.

PlantTech has appointed Dr Mark Begbie as the organisation’s first chief executive and will have its formal launch this month.

Agritech Unleashed will deliver a day of major presentations at National Fieldays on 13 June. Wren-Hilton said the five ground-breaking sessions were designed to unleash the potential of New Zealand’s agritech sector, including:

• A preview of the New Zealand Agritech Story. This is a major project that Agritech New Zealand has been developing with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) over the past six months.

• A preview of the establishment of a New Zealand agritech venture fund. For New Zealand’s early stage agritech sector looking to scale, this has often been cited as the missing link.

• The formal New Zealand launch of Farm2050’s Nutrient Initiative. This three-year initiative is designed to identify nutrient-related technologies that will not only increase plant yield, but also mitigate against negative environmental impact such as run-off. Agritech sees this as a critically important opportunity for New Zealand to lead the world in sustainable farming

• The NZ Aerospace Challenge 2019 is also addressing one of the biggest issues facing the agricultural sector – sustainability. Twenty companies are developing a product or service that detects, monitors or measures water or soil pollution using the very latest satellite and unmanned aircraft (UA) technology. New Zealand is a world leader in this space.

• The government has launched an ”all of government” Agritech Taskforce. At this session, the taskforce lead will focus on the initiatives under discussion and how they are being designed to support and scale New Zealand’s agritech sector.

• Wren-Hillton said the Agritech Unleashed session were being supported by National Fieldays and the sponsorship of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Agritech Unleashed will provide visibility and insights into some of the major initiatives being planned for New Zealand’s agritech sector,” he said.

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