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Connection to the land

The New Zealand agritech industry has worked hard to develop an environment which stimulates and encourages the growth of technology solutions, while at the same time staying true to core values.

New Zealanders believe they have a special connection to the land, embracing the Māori concept of kaitiakitanga – care for people, place and planet for future generations. Protecting the environment and land is therefore central to many of their tech solutions.

 

The need to produce more food for the world’s ever-growing population can sometimes seem at odds with political objectives around climate change and protecting the world’s natural resources.

 

But New Zealanders have not shied away from the challenge of finding solutions which do both.

 

For instance, UBCO’s electric bike which reduces fuel use and soil compaction and Halter’s GPS-enabled, solar-powered cow collar are just two examples which are now being exported across the globe.

 

Nick Swallow, New Zealand Trade Commissioner to the UK explains: “Many New Zealanders believe the land talks and right now it’s telling us we need to do better. So we’re responding with ingenuity.

 

Our farmers, researchers and businesses combine respect for the land with advanced technology and they are creating agritech solutions which deliver real results.”

 

Nick Swallow says New Zealand farmers have a very professional, data-led attitude and approach to food production borne out of and early need to adapt to farming without subsidies which helps create the right atmosphere for innovation.

 

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Similarly, the small size of the country means that farmers and technologists are closely connected. In fact, they are often the same people.

 

He says: “New Zealand has created an innovation ecosystem that connects farmers and technologists with researchers, government agencies and tech entrepreneurs, not just in New Zealand but internationally too.

 

We’ve combined that with funding models which are designed to inspire collaboration across sectors and industries. It is all geared towards turning breakthrough agritech ideas into a reality.”

 

The country’s hard work is paying off. New Zealand has eight universities, six Crown Research Institutes, and 11 research associations and organisations, for just five million people. Not only that, agritech now contributes $1.5 billion dollars to the country’s export receipts.

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