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The Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) launched the Manawatū Agritech Strategy in late 2019. Developed in partnership with global agritech accelerator Sprout, industry leaders, iwi, businesses, investors and entrepreneurs.

“It is the first regional Strategy of its kind in Aotearoa that clearly defines our agritech ecosystem and maps out the work required to accelerate Manawatū’s leadership in agritech and agrifood, setting a clear path forward to achieving our ambitious goal of being recognised as one of the top three agrifood hubs in the world,” says Linda Stewart, CEDA’s CEO.

It is an exciting time for the agritech industry globally, and Manawatū is leading the way for Aotearoa. The latest 12-Month Report for the AgriTech Strategy shows we are well on our way to achieving global top-three status. With $12.4million of capital invested into local agritech companies, and $1.6million in research and development (R&D) grants invested in Manawatū agritech companies during the 2019/20 financial year, Manawatū is also home to more than 3,900 scientists and researchers. Here, we have a world class concentration of labs, trial farms, food R&D facilities, education institutions and innovation spaces. Manawatū is a place where groups in agritech and agrifood can work and grow together to share knowledge, network and innovate for the future of food.

Additionally, the Sprout Accelerator has been bolstered through a partnership with Callaghan Innovation and new investment partners Fonterra, OurCrowd and Finistere Ventures, to create a $40m seed fund to invest in start-ups over the next seven years.
“Sprout Accelerator is designed for the next generation of agritech and foodtech companies from around the world. Companies that are successfully selected undergo intensive mentorship and can raise $1million of seed-stage funding from Sprout,” says Jane Donaldson, Accelerator Manager of Sprout.

Other notable achievements over the last year include:

  • The establishment of the Massey AgriFood (MAF) Digital Lab, an incubator for the development of technologies in areas such as advanced robotics.
  • The Massey University and AgResearch joint food science facility, Te Ohu Rangahau Kai, has also been established to provide office and lab space for NZ’s best scientists in the fields of dairy and red meat research to collaborate.
  •  The establishment of the International Horticulture Immersion Programme, an Industry-driven collaborative venture supported by AgMARDT, NZ Apples and Pears, Zespri International, Massey University, Lincoln University, ANZ Bank, Food HQ, AgFirst, T&G Global, Farmlands, Potatoes NZ, Horticulture Capability Group, and Global HQ. The programme is a unique, experiential professional development program for exceptional university students and recent graduates who possess high leadership potential, with a complete immersion into selected international horticultural markets and exposure to the complete value chains supporting them.

“With Greentech Robotics, Levno, Hyperceptions and Biolumic just some of the well-known companies who are born out of the region, Manawatū has all the right ingredients for innovative agritech companies to thrive.” says John Morris, CEDA’s Business Development Manager. “As an economic development agency, it is our role to bring together key stakeholders, partners and industry to leverage and raise Manawatū’s profile in the agritech sector, to ensure that people, businesses and investments from across the globe want to be here and can connect to our expertise. Working towards recognition as a top three global agrifood hub is one of the regions strategic goals, and one that everyone can play a part in achieving.”

“We’re currently reviewing the plans and goals for year three, alongside our partners to look toward the future opportunities,” Morris says.

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