Peter Wren-Hilton

The importance of sharing New Zealand’s compelling agritech story offshore

Since I returned from San Jose last week, there has been quite a bit of talk about the impact that New Zealand’s delegation made during this year’s Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program.

Some of it came from partners in NZ. This year however, I’ve received emails and invitations to connect from a wide range of countries including Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Brazil, the US and Canada. It’s clear from the content of those messages that the New Zealand delegation delivered.

Where to next? As those of you who might have read these blog posts before will know, Agritech New Zealand signed two important Strategic Partnership Agreements last week; one with North America’s largest growers of fresh produce, Western Growers and one with Farm2050, the global consortium of leading agri-focused venture firms and major agribusinesses.

Presenting the New Zealand agritech story in a compelling and coherent way was an important backdrop to those discussions. As a country renowned for its high quality agricultural produce and wide-ranging and sophisticated farming systems, it’s important that we understand how to tell and share our agritech story.

As New Zealand’s agritech sector continues to reach out to international markets, it’s therefore great to acknowledge that this work has been recognised by government. Right now, NZTech is working with the team at NZTE and New Zealand Story to help curate the message. Agritech New Zealand is aligning itself to this work and we are encouraging others in the sector to do the same.

In San Jose, the theme of the New Zealand panel presentation at last Thursday’s conference was ‘How can NZ agritech help feed the world’. So much of our domestic focus is on producing high quality food to feed 40 million people around the world, we sometimes forget that this accounts for only around 0.5% of the global population. Our tech however can help other nations increase the production of their food needs in much more sustainable ways. By doing so, not only do we increase New Zealand’s agritech export sales, we also help the world feed the remaining 99.5%.

This was the message that resonated at the conference. By focusing on the really big picture, the delegates from many countries recognised our point of difference. Nicky Molloy from Callaghan Innovation talked about Kaitiaki, ‘we are guardians of people, place & planet’. The kiwi panel talked about Ingenuity, ‘Challenging the status quo with original and bold solutions’ and Integrity, ‘We come from a good place. We say what we do’. New Zealand’s delegation stood tall and proud in San Jose. The world saw and understood. It’s now time to press ahead with Āwhina ki te whangai i te ao.  

It’s time for our tech to ‘help feed the world’.

Peter Wren-Hilton Peter is Executive Director of Agritech New Zealand and founder of Wharf42 in Tauranga. Peter helps organise major agritech conferences in New Zealand and offshore and connects early stage New Zealand agritech companies with international markets.