Robotics Plus appoints chief executive

Tauranga-based Robotics Plus has appointed Dr Matt Glenn as the company’s chief executive.

The move follows a period of accelerated growth for the agricultural robotics and automation company, fuelled by industry demand for its innovative agri-hort technologies.

“The company is growing strongly and is well-funded, so now is the right time to add a professional chief executive to lead our high calibre team,” said Steve Saunders, Robotics Plus co-founder and chairman, who has been the acting chief executive.

“We are very pleased to have attracted someone of Matt’s calibre. He brings more than 20 years of experience in business management and the commercialisation of science and technology.”

Saunders will remain an executive director and will be focusing on the strategy and establishment of a US

Dr Glenn has an honours degree and PhD in molecular biology from Liverpool University and Leeds University respectively.

He previously served from 2014 as the chief executive of Hill Laboratories, New Zealand’s leading analytical testing laboratory.

Before that, he worked in management consulting after roles at Fonterra and Ballance Agri-nutrients where he gained expertise in a broad range of management disciplines.

This followed a role at biotech start-up Genesis Research and Development, where he helped develop the largest genomics platform in the Southern Hemisphere.

Dr Glenn said he was excited to be joining a creative and innovative company with ambitions to lead the world in robotics development focused on our food and fibre industries.

“The company is well-positioned to deliver on this vision and has some fantastic commercial partnerships in Yamaha, Global Pac Technologies, ISO, Zespri and Trimax.”

Earlier in the year, Robotics Plus secured investment and a partnership agreement from Yamaha Motor Co. (Japan) and the Saunders Family Trust in New Zealand to support its ambitious growth plans.

In May, Robotics Plus signed an agency and distribution agreement with Global Pac Technologies, a joint venture between United States company Van Doren Sales and New Zealand-owned Jenkins Group, for the company’s revolutionary robotic apple packers to go global. (see our Innovation cover stories in our May-June 2018 issue)

The apple packer identifies and places apples in their trays and can safely handle up to 120 fruit per minute, the equivalent of two people working. It is already operating in packhouses in New Zealand and the US.

Robotics Plus apple packers are the first of a suite of technologies to be commercially launched, which aim to address major issues in the horticulture industry caused by labour shortages and increasing consumer demand for
fresh fruit.

Other technologies under development, at various stages of commercialisation, include an autonomous agricultural vehicle, robotic kiwifruit harvester, robotic pollinator, crop estimator, and a number of confidential projects.

Dr Glenn said the company was well-supported in its vision to grow into a truly global business that will transform a number of industries.

“Robotics Plus has established valuable research relationships with the University of Waikato, the University of Auckland, Massey University and Plant & Food Research.

“Our innovation and growth plans are well supported by Government agencies, Callaghan Innovation, NZTE, MBIE, MPI and TPK.”

The company is also a founding partner of PlantTech, the new, industry-led research organisation based in the Western Bay of Plenty.

A key focus for Robotics Plus in the coming months will be actively recruiting more engineers, to add to their team of 27 staff and eight researchers in order to keep pace with global demand.

David Porter
David Porter
Editor, Bay of Plenty Business News. Email: editor@bopbusinessnews.co.nz

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