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Milking the World Dairy Expo for all it’s worth

Posted: 11 December 2017
A Callaghan Innovation-led trip to North America’s largest dairy technology event provided priceless insights for a delegation of kiwi innovators looking to crack a lucrative export market.

World Dairy Expo - talking with Winsconsin farmer


For New Zealand technology companies after new export opportunities, there’s no substitute to being on-the-ground in the market you’re focused on breaking into.

That was a key discovery for a delegation of New Zealand agritech pioneers who attended October’s World Dairy Expo (WDE) in Madison, Wisconsin, with the assistance of Callaghan Innovation.

WDE serves as a forum, with an international flavour, for dairy producers, companies, organisations and other dairy enthusiasts to come together to compete and exchange ideas, knowledge, technology and commerce. It is the largest dairy technology event in North America, attracting 68,700 attendees this year.

Representatives from 10 technology-focused agritech companies – all with plans to export to the US – were selected to receive assistance from Callaghan Innovation to be part of the delegation.

Callaghan Innovation collaborated with NZTE and several other government and industry groups to ensure the companies got the most out of attending the expo.

One member of the kiwi delegation described the expo as “a very valuable activity and a great use of our time.”

“World Dairy (Expo) is very different to many other ag-shows in that it is remarkably disciplined and focussed … It really is our current sweet spot and the place to connect to our largest tech market.”

As part of the trip, delegates also toured the University of Wisconsin-Madison and dairy farms around Madison.

Listen and learn: Delegates spent time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Listen and learn: Delegates spent time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 

Trip exceeds expectations

Callaghan Innovation’s Agritech team wanted the trip to enable early stage businesses that are developing their technology for solutions on-farm to look at an export market earlier than they otherwise would. Participating companies left with a better understanding of the potential an export market like the US represents, they validated their tech and business models, and connected with potential partners.

Contracts were signed and deals done that related not just to the US market but spanned Europe, Ireland and Australia. And that’s not to mention the valuable collaborative discussions the trip facilitated within the delegation and with the larger New Zealand companies exhibiting at the show.

An in-market immersion program that utilised the local knowledge of NZTE’s North America staff and their connections gave delegates invaluable insights into the local business environment, enabling them to have more impactful discussions at the expo.

Out and about in Wisconsin: Travelling as a delegation gave the group more opportunities to network, both amongst themselves and with other kiwi and international companies.
Out and about in Wisconsin: Travelling as a delegation gave the group more opportunities to network, both amongst themselves and with other kiwi and international companies.

 

Kiwis together on the world stage

The power of wearing New Zealand lanyards as part of a kiwi delegation gave the visitors a greater ability to connect into conversations at the expo – far greater than if they had been attending on their own.

“We really benefitted from having a team approach and there was actually quite high awareness that the kiwis were at the event in decent numbers,” one participant said.

“There is something unique and priceless about the conversations you have offshore,” said one delegate. “There’s a deeper connectivity involved in sharing breakfast or Uber rides.”

Flying the flag: New Zealand’s agritech industry was well represented at the Expo.
Flying the flag: New Zealand’s agritech industry was well represented at the Expo.

 

The early-stage New Zealand businesses used networking to connect with larger, experienced kiwi corporates, key US personal, and even the US Ambassador, Tim Grosser. And the international and New Zealand connections made during the trip also resulted in delegates signing MOUs and NDAs.

“We did not intend to look at the US market in the next 12 months, but (have) now identified future opportunities, capital investment to set up here, market validation and product validation, so (we) can build a business case around how best to support this market in the future,” one participant said.

 “We aim to do more of our in-market work in the USA as a result of relationships (formed) and the attitude of the people we meet through this delegation,” said another.

One said the trip had resulted in the purchase of around $3 million of international technology which his company would feed into New Zealand technology development.

The main event: Outside the entrance to the World Dairy Expo.
The main event: Outside the entrance to the World Dairy Expo.

 

Tangible outcomes

All 10 companies attending said they had built new or stronger international relationships thanks to being part of the delegation. Eight said the experience would impact their innovation strategy, while seven said they now intended to develop new or improved products, services or processes as a result of what they had learned.

Seven also said they planned to carry out increased or new R&D, and five said they will adopt or acquire new technologies.

Positive benefits: All 10 delegation participants said the trip resulted in them building new or stronger international relationships, while the majority saw benefits for their innovation and R&D strategies.
Positive benefits: All 10 delegation participants said the trip resulted in them building new or stronger international relationships, while the majority saw benefits for their innovation and R&D strategies.

 

Taking kiwi agritech innovations to the world

Geographically, New Zealand is a great place to develop agricultural technology. In a space that is two-thirds the size of California, we have virtually every type of product and farming system. This provides multiple test beds in a small geographical area and means technology developed here is scalable and suitable for a wide variety of world markets.

As the government’s innovation agency, Callaghan Innovation works with New Zealand agri-businesses to develop and commercialise their new technology ideas.  Our specialised Agritech team nurtures and challenges our customers. We help navigate innovation, open up channels for funding, and connect businesses to R&D expertise so they can improve yield, efficiency and profitability in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and aquaculture.

So talk to us now about developing products and capabilities with a global view in mind. 

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