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


Supervised exercise produces better results, research finds


Christchurch – New research has found that people produce greater muscle strength and body tone when their exercise is supervised compared with unsupervised exercise.

A combined Australian universities’ 16-week trial confirmed the biggest improvements to fitness came with supervised support, ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie says.

The landmark trial was carried out by Charles Sturt University, RMIT University, La Trobe University, Victoria and Swinburne University of Technology.

Results showed that exercise is important for health and for a healthy workforce and that barriers to exercise need overcoming.

“The 85 trial participants all had access to a gym, but some with regular scheduled supervised contact and others without,” Beddie says.

“It’s important if we want to improve the lives of Kiwis, we need exercise professionals.

“We accept that currently active people don’t need that as such, but given that less than 50 percent of adults in New Zealand are doing enough activity and just on a quarter do less than 30 minutes a week, clearly exercise professionals can help hundreds of thousands of Kiwis to improve their lives and health outcomes though exercise,” he says.

The trial report says that with high rates of global physical inactivity, the environment of many modern workplaces has led to widespread occupational sedentarism and reduced cardiovascular and musculoskeletal demands.

“Such a reduction in occupational physical demand can lead to diminished physical capacity and increase the prevalence of obesity due to energy imbalance,” the report says.

“This is a significant problem that highlights the need to remain physically active, as low cardiorespiratory fitness, poor muscular strength and obesity are each independently associated with increased mortality risk.”

The sedentary workplaces now affect a significant proportion of the global population given that two-thirds of people older than 15 years are employed worldwide, the report says.

Exercise is now the No.1 sport in New Zealand with more than half a million participants and growing research confirms the health benefits of activity for every age, Beddie says.

“In New Zealand we are fortunate to have a registration body for exercise professionals and we strongly advise ensuring anyone you get exercise advice from is registered with the NZ Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs),” he says.

For further information contact Make Lemonade news director Kip Brook on 0275 030188.


Beddie invited by the WHO to help global exercise concerns


Christchurch – Richard Beddie, one of New Zealand leading’s exercise experts, is one of 20 specialists from all over the world to be invited to talk to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva on February 25 and 26.

Beddie, who is recognised in the fitness industry as a global expert in exercise and physical activity, will be speaking at the WHO event which is seeking to get people more active for a healthier world.
He says the conference will focus on the private sector, NGOs and governments so they can cooperate to increase physical activity rates globally.

Beddie, the chief executive of ExerciseNZ, has the knowledge and experience in getting more people active.

“The WHO event could improve the quality of lives of Kiwis, and if implemented, will reduce the health burden of inactivity on the taxpayer and government and it will explore ways of collaboration between Government, NGOs, the exercise industry and employers to get more Kiwis to be more active,” he says.

Beddie has a background in governance of global bodies including being chairman of the International Confederation of Register for Exercise Professionals (ICREPs) for four years and nine years with Skills Active Aotearoa, New Zealand’s standard setter for education and training in sport fitness and recreation.

He set up the world’s first collaborative network for registered exercise professionals globally and has worked with other countries to facilitate portability for New Zealand-trained exercise professionals to travel and work overseas.

“I am privileged to have been Involved with education and quality standards for the exercise industry in New Zealand for the last 20 years, including setting up NZ’s first national registration body for exercise professionals in 2003.

“I have also helped support district councils run large sport and reaction programmes to involve more people, while being financially sustainable.

“On the global stage, there is insufficient physical activity which is one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide.

“Globally, one in four adults is not active enough. More than 80 percent of the world’s adolescent population is insufficiently physically active.”

WHO defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure – including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits.

WHO recommends that children and adolescents aged five to 17 years should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. Physical activity of amounts greater than 60 minutes daily will provide additional health benefits.

“Adults aged 18 to 64 years should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity every week. But the key is start somewhere, once a week for 30 minutes is better than no exercise,” Beddie says.

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


NZ tech firms should jump at business opportunities in Hong Kong


Auckland – Hong Kong is providing New Zealand with a doorstep of opportunity for Kiwi tech firms, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

Muller has just returned from a business trip to Hong Kong, building connections with their tech sector and investors to support a growing interest in the Hong Kong / China market from New Zealand tech firms.

“The One Country – Two Systems structure has left Hong Kong with a separate legal system to China which is similar to our own common law system, with good intellectual property protection and a tough anti-corruption force, all adding up to Hong Kong providing a safe entry point into North Asia for Kiwi tech firms,” he says.

“The Hong Kong government has also committed the equivalent of $10 billion in investments into growing and supporting innovation and the tech sector and New Zealand businesses can access some of this funding to help set up and grow from Hong Kong.

“There is growing interest in what we provide as Hong Kong is aware that New Zealand is ranked as the third freest economy, just behind Hong Kong, according to the 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, and is the least corrupt nation according to Transparency International.

“Hong Kong could provide massive opportunities for NZ tech businesses and there is a real interest in our innovations in AI, biotech, govtech, fintech and smart city solutions.”

Muller urged any Kiwi tech companies interested in doing business in Hong Kong or China to contact him at NZTech or to attend an upcoming seminar being put on by the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office where he will share insights from his visit.

The Hong Kong – Connecting New Zealand to the Greater Bay Area event will touch on the opportunity for Kiwi firms of this 70 million-person market on Hong Kong’s doorstep.

NZTech represents more than 800 organisations across the tech ecosystem which employ more than 100,000 Kiwis. Technology is now New Zealand’s fastest growing and third largest export earner.

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


NZ facing unprecedented fintech changes this year


Auckland – New Zealanders will experience more unprecedented changes in financial technology in 2019 like never before, FintechNZ general manager James Brown says.

Brown says Kiwis will see some amazing new developing trends this year, such as financial unbundling gaining momentum which will drive more competition and more transparency as New Zealand has witnessed in the life insurance sector.

“It’s all happening this year. We will see new investment platforms will emerge like Sharesies and now Hatch, which now offers customers the opportunity to buy shares in the US Wall St stock market, Brown says.

“Wearable technology will advance and the younger generation likely to be the early adopters. They are aware of more adoption of smart watches while Visa is looking at payment options in sunglasses.

“Regtech will help speed up the anti-money laundering / know your customer process which will lead to more partnering between the large incumbents and fintechs. Using machine learning and better technology will not only speed up the process but make it more secure thus reducing fraud.

“Traditional markets like estate agencies will become targets to new disruptive tech entrants, similar to Purple Bricks in the UK which is presenting a fixed fee offer. Old established markets are open for disruption.

“Buying and selling a property is a long, costly process but with new providers not having lots of branches, they can offer the same service, with an app that allows the seller, agent and potential buyer to be in contact to answer any questions. It provides more information about the area, police stats etc and saves thousands of dollars.

“Intangible assets will be more openly discussed, and we could see banks consider lending against it. The best examples of this are Uber and Airbnb. They don’t own taxis or hotels but deliver a service better than the more traditional taxi or hotel chains. Intangible assets now account for 87 percent of a companies’ value.

The insurance sector will continue to be under scrutiny with the government taking a hard stance around sales techniques and commission-based products being eliminated, Brown says.

Consumers will be given even more choice about how and when to pay such as instalments or even borrowing against future earnings as we have seen in the US.

NZ will move away from open banking to open data with the chief executive of one of the big banks already announcing the likely impact to their bottom line.

“Open banking is just focused on the financial services sector where as open data is about the end user and the experience they have with their data from buying online to sharing health information.

Customer experience will be pushed more into the limelight. New fintechs don’t have the legacy systems to deal with so can offer a better and more personalised outcome.

FintechNZ and the AI Forum NZ will be staging an event in Wellington on Thursday next week about how artificial intelligence will transform the customer experience across financial services.

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


NZ to take ownership of a new global agritech initiative


Tauranga – New Zealand is going to take ownership of a new global agritech initiative, AgritechNZ chief executive Peter Wren-Hilton says.

Wren-Hilton has just returned from the US where he met a number of key AgritechNZ partners in Farm2050 which was set up to solve the global food challenge.  By the year 2050, the global population will reach 10 billion people, requiring a 70 percent increase in food production.

Wren-Hilton says the main purpose of the trip was to discuss preparation for the three-year agritech initiative based on identifying disruptive technologies around nutrients.

“I met several leaders from a number of the world’s largest agribusinesses such as Bayer CropScience, Corteva, Syngenta, and Nutrien.

“We looked at the impact of nutrient application and measurement from two perspectives; plant absorption efficiency and environmental impact. For farmers and growers in New Zealand, both are key metrics.

“As Farm2050’s first country partner, New Zealand has a pivotal role to play. We have advanced farming systems and deep domain knowledge.

“We produce some of the finest agricultural product in the world. Yet our farmers and growers are well aware of the regulatory environment in which they now operate. Consumer concerns about environmental impact, negative media comment and government regulation are all affecting sentiment within the primary sector.

“As a first step, Farm2050, in conjunction with AgritechNZ, will work with New Zealand farmers, leading agriculture co-operatives and government to establish field trials to test select emerging nutrient technologies.

“We plan to engage with New Zealand’s major existing players in this space, as well as early stage agritech companies seeking to address these critical issues.

“There is also great science often locked up in our universities and crown research institutes. Leveraging these combined assets can help New Zealand’s agritech sector take a global lead in improving both plant absorption efficiency, as well as reducing environmental impact through the smarter use of nutrients.”

Wren-Hilton says he will soon be releasing a detailed white paper that will drive the agritech initiative. He will also be announcing some of the globally-recognised companies that will be working with AgritechNZ to help scale the initiative in New Zealand.

“As New Zealand sets out its targets for reducing carbon emissions and improving water quality over the coming years, the Farm2050 initiative will go a long way to supporting this ambition. For Agritech New Zealand and its members, it’s a very exciting way to kick off 2019,” Wren-Hilton says.

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


World first IoT farming tech trial in NZ


Auckland – A pioneering arable farming tech trial is expected to make a quantum leap to help boost New Zealand’s primary export revenue.

New Zealand has a low understanding of how the internet of things (IoT) can assist with farm management and sustainability and adoption of precision agriculture techniques also remains low.

New Zealand’s primary industry export revenue is forecast to reach $43.8 billion for the year to June 2019, an increase of 2.5 percent from 2018.

The latest Ministry for Primary Industries Situation and Outlook report gives an encouraging assessment of the major primary sectors which continue to grow, up $1.1 billion from the previous year.

The IoT tech trial at Kowhai Farm is a New Zealand IoT Alliance pilot in collaboration with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The pilot aims to demonstrate that with the better use of digital technologies New Zealand primary sector businesses will be more productive and more competitive irrespective of their size or the sector they are operating in, NZ IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says.

“Worldwide, the adoption and implementation of precision agriculture has become possible because of the development of sophisticated sensors, robots and sensor networks combined with procedures to link mapped variables to appropriate farming management actions,” he says.

“Sensors, either wired or wireless, integrated into an IoT system gather essential data needed for cost effective and sustainable farm management.

“The IoT demonstration pilot is being undertaken on a site administered by the Foundation for Arable Research. The pilot is showcasing the technology needed for precision agriculture methods and techniques in a hands-on pilot demonstration that will be monitored and evaluated by the foundation.

“The trial aims to get farmers to see the value in deploying technology which is rapidly evolving and we feel that 2019 could be the tipping the point for New Zealand and the farming export sector,” Naicker says.

With the environmental impact of agriculture on the New Zealand landscape being a concern, farmers are improving their practices to minimise possible impacts. The installation of nitrate sensors in groundwater monitoring wells will help monitor the dynamics of nitrates.

Using the IoT technology to provide a low cost and effective infrastructure to deliver nitrate readings to the cloud will allow groups of farmers to monitor their collective performance and work together to develop further mitigations if required.

A monitoring bore near Kowhai Farm has been instrumented with a Hydrometrics nitrate sensor. On the property Aquaflex soil moisture sensors, climate and plant sensors are also installed to

demonstrate what is possible.

Four technology companies are working together in the first phase of the trial. The Tru Track consortium consists of Tru Track, Lincoln Agritech, Met Technology Limited and Aquaflex NZ, which is a division of Streat Instruments. The current demonstration is using the Sigfox network to deliver the data.

MBIE digital economy policy advisor Sandra Laws says the next phase of the pilot will see Spark and KotahiNet deploy a range of their sensors.

“This will further add to the data we’re collecting on growing conditions. Overall, the pilot will provide valuable insight into the potential of these emerging technologies, which could help boost the

productivity and sustainability of New Zealand farm management practices,” she says.

For further information contact Make Lemonade NZ editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.
Photo: Kriv Naicker


NZ leading the way with global biotech experts


Auckland – The New Zealand biotech sector is poised to soar this year with world leading expertise across health, fuel and food research which can help feed the world, BiotechNZ executive director Zahra Champion says.

Dr Champion made the comments today following the announcement that the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), which is the world’s largest biotech trade association, and American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) have launched Innovature.

“This is an exciting new global step providing a platform to spark thoughtful dialogue around innovation in food and agriculture, with an initial focus on gene editing. BiotechNZ is a member of BIO.

“New Zealand’s laws and regulations governing genetic modification are among the most rigorous in the world. However, this should not stop the New Zealand public understanding gene editing and how it is spurring new developments in food and agriculture to address some of our most pressing societal challenges.

“This Innovature platform will enable healthy debate, but it’s also about creating solutions between people, organisations and countries that have expertise in certain areas.

“The word biotechnology has many meanings involving medtech, agritech, foodtech, clean tech, high tech manufacturing and biopharma. However, technology that involves the use of living organisms, in agriculture, food science, and medicine is still defined as biotechnology.

“New Zealand has world leaders in the biotech industry. They include Dr Sean Simpson, founder of one of New Zealand’s biggest biotech companies, Lanzatech.

“Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic has completed a flight using fuel produced by Lanzatech made from waste industrial gases. The company says the technology could cut emissions from the aviation sector by 70 per cent.

“Auckland University academics Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble and Dr Geoff Williams and Professor Rod Dunbar with their company JanSapVax, are partnering with a US drug development company BioMotiv and they have launched a biotech start-up that will research novel cancer vaccines.

“Otago University professor Indrawati Oey is leading a team of researchers to test edible packaging which could replace common plastic.

“And finally, Argenta, a New Zealand animal health company, has received US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a drug aimed at a neglected parasitic disease that causes blindness in humans.

“We hear all the time of the impacts on human, animal and environment with regards to the global issues we are facing. To find these solutions collaboration is key and New Zealand has a great track record of collaboration nationally and internationally,” Dr Champion says.

For further information contact BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion on 021 899 732 or Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188


NZ heading to become a cashless society


Auckland – Wearable technology will be the next major financial tech change for consumer to pay for goods and services, FintechNZ general manager James Brown says.

New Zealanders need to look beyond the card or phone for just making simple transactions, such as iris eye recognition as a method of identifying people, he says.

“Kiwi small to medium businesses should consider a strategy around non-cash payments. Sweden has been highlighted as the number one contender for going cashless with Australia not far behind and it could go cashless by 2020.

“MYOB did a survey which found that New Zealand could become cashless by 2028. But I believe to become globally recognised as a fintech leader, New Zealand needs to be bolder and that’s why FintechNZ has created an open ecosystem group to look beyond open banking.

“So, what does all this mean for anyone running a business or setting up a business in New Zealand?

“We are seeing new compliance and the Reserve Bank and the Financial Markets Authority have found that businesses need to build a non-cash strategy to meet the demands of their digital consumers because it is quicker and more secure.

“We know quite a number of businesses do not use payWave because of the cost. However, not to use it can negatively impact their business.

“We need to look at how much it costs small to medium businesses in this country to deposit cash; how could that be better invested; is there an angle around making money; and finally the cost and the impact to the environment.

“Things are changing fast in the financial tech sector. The Royal Bank of Scotland is looking at a name change and launching a new digital bank called Bo, again playing to the new millennial way of thinking which is digital transactions.

“We need more collaboration between all the financial services providers to agree to some industry standards and work harder on providing customers with more options beyond cheques and cash and make it cost effective,” Brown says.

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

Photo: James Brown