New Zealand urgently needs a biotech strategy


Auckland – New Zealand urgently needs a biotech strategy because it is critical to the future of the country’s economy, BiotechNZ executive director Zahra Champion says.

The global biotechnology market is expected to reach more than $US727 billion within six years, according to a new report by Grand View Research in San Francisco.

Dr Champion says New Zealand used to but currently does not have a biotech strategy.

“Our government must understand that biotech is vital to the future of our economy. Last week many Kiwi agritech and biotech-related companies featured at a massive international agritech-biotech conference in Melbourne.

“AgritechNZ wants to strategically reposition and restructure the direction for New Zealand to build a world class agritech ecosystem. Many of the new technologies in agriculture are from our BiotechNZ group.

“These include companies like A2 Corporation which has developed systems which has improved protein in Anchor milk. AgResearch in Lincoln is producing grass that grows 50 per cent faster and more resistant to drought.

“Look at the work Indigo has developed that will significantly reduce emissions from agriculture by increasing pasture fed milk and meat production. We need to nurture more companies like that.
“Biotech is a high-value sector which relies on leading science, innovation and manufacturing. It is a sector that is protected by intellectual property rights, strict regulatory guidelines and a highly-skilled workforce. It is one of the few manufacturing sectors that can’t be easily eroded by lower cost economies.

There are compelling reasons why biotech should be snapped up by a positive new government policy after years of New Zealand lacking a clear national strategy.

“We need to consider many animal, human and environmental health pressures and reduce and generate value from waste. For a country so reliant on the primary export sector, we need to build a world class biotech-agritech ecosystem.

“We don’t want to fall behind. Look at the Investment Corporation of Dubai which has just put $US203 million into agritech investments and another $200 million from Japanese firm Softbank which is one of the world’s largest firms.

“New Zealand’s agricultural, environmental and economic future will rely on the success of our biotech sector which needs more focus from government. It is time for a more strategic, all of government approach and a shared national strategy,” Dr Champion says.

For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188


NZ agritech the big hit at Melbourne’s EvokeAg event


Melbourne – Almost 100 Kiwi agritech specialists, entrepreneurs, agribusiness leaders and support agencies have joined 1000 delegates at the international EvokeAg food & farm futures conference in Melbourne this week.

Making up almost 10 percent of the attendees at this globally focused conference shows the significance for agritech for New Zealand and its future, AgritechNZ executive director Peter Wren-Hilton said from Melbourne today.

“The exciting thing for New Zealand is our alignment with addressing many of the big global challenges for feeding the world while not destroying the planet.

“The conference has also had a high presence of international investors who all noted that we have to be patient with agritech investments as new agri-technologies such as alternative proteins, on-farm robotics, vertical farming and nutrient management systems all take time to build.

“Several investors said the New Zealand agritech market is coming of age. It is a great test market for addressing global farming challenges such as nutrient management and cleaning water ways, dealing with labour shortages and producing healthier food. Yet more needs to be done to help Kiwi agritech companies go global faster.”

There is a wealth of potential solutions for global markets locked up in NZ crown research institutes (CRIs) and universities, Wren-Hilton says. Potentially, with better incentive structures and better connections with smart global capital, New Zealand can accelerate the conversion of this IP into value for the New Zealand economy.

“Among the many Kiwi attendees at the event were Kiwi agritech firms looking to raise funding. Wine Grenade, CertusBIO and Hot Lime Labs have all made the Pitch Tent Finals competing against the best in the world to raise funds by pitching to the VC firms at the conference.

“CertusBio is another great NZTech story. Their chief executive Matthew Jones this week won the pitch tent investment ready pitch competition at EvokeAg against agritech firms from around the world.

“Bringing together our globally successful agri sector with our fast-growing tech and innovation sector is opening up a global agritech investment market worth more than $US7.1 billion. New Zealand’s future can be about not only feeding 40 million people around the world, but also selling the systems that help feed 10 billion people.,” Wren-Hilton says.

AgritechNZ is helping build a world class agritech ecosystem but New Zealand needs to integrate agriculture and technology faster to strengthen its primary export sector.

As the world’s demand for food increases with its ever-growing population, New Zealand can expand its primary sector further by focusing on producing higher value produce and agri-systems for the world.

For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188