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New Zealand prepares to invest in agricultural technology

August 1, 2020
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: High-impact projects have been identified in horticultural robotics, disruptive technologies in nutrients, and venture capital for agritech.

New Zealand’s primary industries, consisting of agriculture, forestry, horticulture and seafood, are an important contributor to its economy, with a total output of $46.3 billion NZD (approximately ~$31.3 billion USD) in 2018, making up 15% of New Zealand’s GDP that year (see Aotearoa Agritech Unleashed and Trading Economics).

The New Zealand government has identified agricultural technology (agritech) as a key area of opportunity to support economic growth in the primary industries, and on July 21, 2020, launched the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) outlining six workstreams aimed at growing and scaling New Zealand’s agritech community. In addition, the following three high-impact projects were proposed:

  • Project 1: The development of a horticultural robotics institute as a center of collaboration to highlight a global focus for the sector and overcome issues of scaling (the scoping phase and business case for this project are currently in development)
  • Project 2: Hosting the Farm2050 Nutrient Initiative to identify disruptive technologies in nutrients with the aim of increasing plant absorption efficiencies and decreasing negative environmental impacts
  • Project 3: Creation of a specialist agritech venture capital fund

The government is committing $11.4 million NZD (approximately $7.7 million USD) from its Budget 2020 to help in the implementation of the ITP over the next two years. According to the Aotearoa Agritech Unleashed report, this investment is aimed at increasing the uptake of agritech across New Zealand and could be worth $17 billion NZD (approximately $11.5 billion USD) to the economy in increased output and exports.
As part of the ITP, the government commissioned the NZ Agritech Insights Report 2020 from the Technology Investment Network (TIN) to take a further look at notable companies present in the market. According to the report, revenue of New Zealand’s leading TIN200 agritech firms totaled $1.4 billion (approximately $946 million USD) in 2019. The majority of this revenue was made by agritech firms involved in high-tech manufacturing (68.8%), followed by biotech (29.3%) and information and communications technology (or ICT, 1.8%).

TIN notes that although only three ICT companies made the TIN200 list, 47% of early-stage companies in New Zealand’s agritech market are ICT companies. This reflects that technology used in New Zealand’s agriculture is evolving and signals that ICT is currently an area of agritech that is in its infancy and growing. This could present an opportunity for international exporters, including Wisconsin companies, with expertise in ICT-based agritech solutions to engage with New Zealand companies in this segment.

Further opportunities to engage with the New Zealand market may also exist in key areas of technological development identified by the NZ Agritech Insights 2020 report such as IoT, robotics, alternative nutrients, and water usage efficiency.

For further details on the future of agritech in New Zealand, the industry landscape and upcoming opportunities in the sector, Wisconsin companies are encouraged to review the following:

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