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In search of innovative tech to transform NZ’s primary sector

The platform of collaborative partners, including New Zealand’s Massey University, is currently scouting for innovative, new projects that will solve the critical problems of farmers and growers.

According to a recent press release, the Rural Innovation Lab (RIL) is supporting farmers and growers to experiment with and drive technology and innovation, with set-up funding available for successful applicants.

Established by a NZ$ 400,000 grant from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, the lab will select three projects for funding, with applications closing on 15 July.

Transforming the primary sector

According to the Chairman, the lab is after bold ideas with the potential to transform the primary sector.

He shared that the world of food and agriculture is facing huge disruption, and people are asking questions about farming into the future.

Some of their questions include:

  1. How can we give consumers visibility and transparency into the value chain?
  2. How can we align community and consumer environmental, social and cultural expectations?
  3. What do new business models look like and how can they build resilience into our future farms?

Sector identifies the burning issues

A series of engagement events with over 100 farmers and growers has already identified the burning issues faced by the sector, and projects are being sought to address these challenges.

Farmers have expressed the pressing issues. These are:

  1. Getting closer to consumers
  2. Creating new business models
  3. Ideas to drive value from regulation and compliance
  4. Access to data for better decision making
  5. Understanding and enhancing the environmental footprint

Successful projects will receive access to a share of a NZ$ 15,000 fund, support for project set-up and oversight, and use of the latest technology of a multinational tech company.

Furthermore, they will have access to partners within the RIL collaborative network and mentoring by a network of leading farmers in the Manawatu/Whanganui region.

Farmers and technologists can work together

The Pro Vice Chancellor of the University’s Business School shared that the Lab is now entering an exciting phase.

By focusing on the ideas with the most potential and operationalising them, the Rural Innovation Lab will show how farmers and technologists can work together.

By the end of the year, there should be three proven projects that will have established mechanisms and processes for bringing together very different people to encourage innovation.

In line with this, the Lab had hosted its first Digital Bootcamp recently in order to prepare the farmers, the growers, and the innovators for the application process.

About the Rural Innovation Lab

It is a platform of collaborative partners supporting farmers and growers to experiment with, up-skill in and drive technology and innovation.

It puts farmers and growers at the centre of the innovation process. The project is funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment through the Provincial Growth Fund, and stakeholders from the Manawatu-Whanganui region.

It is an opportunity for the primary sector to experiment with, and drive, technology and innovation.


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