New Zealand’s agritech landscape has transformed itself over the past five years. Much of this change has reflected the move towards more precision-based and digital farming.
It also reflects the emergence of new significant primary industry sectors such as horticulture, viticulture and aquaculture. Whilst dairy, beef and lamb remain the largest players in New Zealand’s agriculture industry, we are witnessing a more diverse range of food and fibre production systems. At the same time, as the country’s agriculture sector addresses major emerging issues such as environmental impact, water quality, more extreme weather events and changing land use, the role of New Zealand’s rapidly growing agritech sector is becoming more important.
The significance of this role saw the New Zealand Government establish an ‘All of Government’ (AOG) agritech taskforce at the end of 2018. This has brought together a number of key government agencies with a view to designing and delivering major AOG initiatives to help support and scale the sector. Agritech is the first sector focus of the New Zealand Government's recently launched Industry Transformation Plan (ITP). Working with industry body, Agritech New Zealand, it’s expected that the first significant initiatives will be launched in early 2020.
Historically, New Zealand’s agritech sector benefits from world-class research, strong supporting institutions and a responsive regulatory framework. Our two degrees of separation means that the sector is closely connected. The emergence of a strong industry body has helped develop a culture of real collaboration amongst key stakeholders.
In June this year, Agritech New Zealand & New Zealand previewed a hero video from the New Zealand Agritech Story. Work began on this at the end of 2018 and over the coming months, more collateral and assets will be published to promote the sector’s values and ethos. If you have not viewed this before, you can view the New Zealand Agritech Story 2.5 minute video here.
Offshore, the sector’s rapid development has not gone unnoticed. A number of New Zealand’s early stage companies including Robotics Plus, Biolumic, Farm IQ, Figured, Halter, Invert Robotics and Autogrow have each raised millions of dollars of venture investment to grow and scale. Relationships have and continue to be developed with key offshore partners to keep this momentum going.
Looking ahead, the significance of New Zealand agritech sector’s relationship with Australia cannot be under-estimated. Looking through the lens of potential investors in San Francisco, Singapore, New Your or London, Australia and New Zealand is viewed as a regional play. We are too remote and too small in that global context to do anything other than collaborate together.
It’s why I am such a supporter of the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council and its mission to promote the region globally as an agritech powerhouse.
New Zealand will play a major role in this initiative, leveraging its major programs of activity already underway. By building on these foundations and working with our Australian colleagues on the Council, New Zealand’s agritech sector will continue to grow, helping our farmers and growers produce nutritious food more profitably and sustainably, as well as increasing our export sales for the good for the world.