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Silicon Valley Agritech 2018

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This article was published on 27 August 2018

Callaghan Innovation in collaboration with Agritech New Zealand and the Silicon Valley Forum is leading a business delegation to the Agritech Immersion Programme and Conference from 27- 31 August 2018 near Silicon Valley. 

News from our Silicon Valley delegation

Latest news from our Silicon Valley delegation

NZ agritech innovators touch down in Silicon Valley

bizEdge: Thirty of New Zealand’s agricultural innovators have finally landed in Silicon Valley this week as they get ready to put their innovations to the test. The 2018 Silicon Valley Agritech Immersion Programme includes a Kiwi delegation led by Agritech New Zealand and Callaghan Innovation...

Kiwis determined to solve global agriculture problems
"New Zealand's genuine relationships with farmers and growers, our kaitianga (care for the environment), our natural innovation flair, and our strong national integrity measures are a unique value proposition. Feedback from Silicon Valley tells us our agritech is world class, we are generally a step ahead. But we struggle with thinking globally and adapting to different markets soon enough. Missions like this make a huge difference where innovators experience the very real and different conditions out here on the field, while connecting them with partnership and investment opportunities," says Nicky Molloy, an agritech innovation expert at Callaghan Innovation.

New deal secures kiwi access to Western Growers' US networks

"The agreement addresses some of the significant challenges that New Zealand agritech companies have faced when entering the US market. Where to land? Who to speak to? How to validate tech in-market and on-farm? But his is not a one-way agreement. It includes a provision to enable US-based agritech businesses to establish a presence in NZ to continue R&D during the northern hemisphere 'off-season'. This is designed to enable two-way tech transfer between both countries. Most programs of this type end after a week and everyone heads home to 'business as usual'. For the delegates in Salinas today, the signing of this agreement has changed that," says Peter Wren-Hilton, Agritech New Zealand's Executive Director.

Autogrow unveils collaborative water management technology

“Essentially we are giving away water management technology. There are very few people who understand how to design and build these technologies and, for someone motivated enough, we are providing the hardware schematics and source code to do it. OpenMinder™ is the perfect product for an NGO or government to fund and manufacture for countries whose farmers need a subsidized or free, water run-off or irrigation monitoring system. And from an education perspective, there are high schools all around the U.S. and in other countries introducing classes on hydroponic systems. OpenMinder™ gives them a practical build they can do,” says Autogrow CEO Darryn Keiller.

NZ the first 'country partner' in major Farm2050 collective

"This is a big deal for New Zealand’s agritech sector. The Farm2050 initiative was established at the back-end of 2014 by Google Chair, Eric Schmidt, and his investment vehicle, Innovation Endeavors. It provides emerging and established New Zealand agritech businesses with the opportunity to engage with major global agribusinesses such as Bayer Crop Science, Corteva Agriscience, Mars & PepsiCo on significant new innovation-driven initiatives. These activities will increase the visibility of emerging New Zealand agritech businesses seeking capital to scale to Farm2050’s venture partners who include Finistere Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, Syngenta Ventures, Fall Line Capital, S2G Ventures & Rabobank," says Agritech New Zealand's Peter Wren-Hilton.

Robotics Plus appoints CEO as demand grows for agricultural automation

Robotics Plus which has been part of the mission twice, has announced a new CEO in a period of accelerated growth for Robotics Plus. Dr Matt Glenn will take the role in agricultural robotics and automation company while Steve Saunders will remains an Executive Director focused on the strategy and the establishment of a US subsidiary. The company's growth, including into the US, has been fuelled by industry demand for its innovative horticulture automation technologies. A key focus for Robotics Plus in the coming months will be actively recruiting more engineers, to add to their team of 27 staff and 8 researchers, to keep pace with the global demand for their innovation. Steve has been a great support to the growing NZ agritech community.

Closer Californian ties crucial for NZ tech growth

“As the world’s demand for food increases with its ever-growing population, New Zealand can expand its primary sector further by being more productive and by focusing on producing higher value produce for the world. Combining two of New Zealand’s leading sectors, agriculture and technology, shows just how we can improve New Zealand farming, food production and health while also growing our exports. We are on the cusp of some massive and exciting tech changes in our lives," says NZTech CEO, Graeme Muller.

New deals give Kiwi agritech access to deep US and European pockets

NZ Herald: New Zealand's world-beating agritech innovators have won powerful new access to the trillion dollar United States agriculture and food production market and some the world's biggest investor pockets...


Tweets from the mission: Twitter @callaghannz #SVFAgTech18 #nzagritech


About the delegation

Agritech New Zealand logo

This will be the third year that the Silicon Valley Forum has run this programme with New Zealand companies attending. It has evolved into an international event that brings agritech innovators, start-ups, leading organisations, investors, farmers, universities, governments and industry experts together to share their knowledge on a range of topics. 

The programme will allow attendees to connect with the latest trends, challenges and opportunities in the US market in horticulture and cropping. While visiting a range of locations through the Silicon Valley, the group will see innovative farming techniques that will include:

  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Water technology innovations
  • Automation on farm/in orchard
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Robotics
  • Advanced sensor technology
  • Big Data and digitisation
  • Mega City Farming.

Delegates will be able to: 

  • Validate technology, market and business strategies for the US market
  • Learn new technology, latest trends, business models and strategies in this market
  • Connect with potential partners, technology providers and investors 
  • Identify new market opportunities
  • Understand, capabilities across New Zealand for developing tech products through pre-visit preparation workshops
  • Better understand technology fit when looking to 'go global'
  • Create valuable connections with other NZ agribusinesses and build global connections.

Our delegates 

The group consists of New Zealand companies who want to be global leaders in agritech innovation, this having a technology solution suitable for horticulture or cropping. It is one of the most diverse missions we have seen,  with existing exporters looking to learn about new technologies, early stage businesses looking to 'go global', researchers, supporting super-connector agencies, and funding organisations. All delegates have clear objectives for joining the delegation, and the capability to apply and implement what they learn on their return to New Zealand. 

The mission includes:

  • A preparation workshop and individual 1:1 sessions prior to departure to ensure they hit the ground running
  • Networking with a range of New Zealand Agritech businesses
  • Customised in-market New Zealand programme on the last day that connects into the US market through Silicon Valley (ie Innovation Eco-system, investor connections)
  • Specific event booking and hotel booking instructions to ensure the New Zealand delegation stays connected
  • Transportation and logistics arrangements over the 5 days.
  • Discounted registration code for Kiwi companies.


Programme details

When: 27–31 August 2018

Where: San Francisco, San Jose, Salinas, Fresno 

The programme includes:

  • 1-day Preparation Workshop in Hamilton, 31 July 2018 (Compulsory for co-funded companies)
  • Sunday, 26 August NZ networking reception (evening) in San Jose
  • Monday, 27-29 August Immersion Programme – San Jose, Salinas and Fresno
  • Thursday, 30 August International Agtech capabilities conference
  • Friday, 31 August NZ focussed day – Understanding how NZ Agritech companies can connect into the US through this region. De-brief and planning session. The programme concludes mid-afternoon.

For further details, see the programme brochure: PDF icon 2018 Seeds of our Future immersion program brochure


Get in contact!

If you are interested in some of the learnings, connections and post-mission insights, contact us at