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Finistere Ventures, a pioneering investor in agrifood technology companies, has just announced the launch of a $40 million-dollar Finistere Aotearoa Fund in partnership with NZ Growth Capital Partners (NZGCP).

Manawatū is recognised as the leading agrifood hub of New Zealand, so it is fitting that this fund will be based here with operations to be run from The Factory in Palmerston North, a leading research and development (R&D) company incubation cluster that has a longstanding relationship with Finistere.

The Factory has been central to Finistere’s investments in New Zealand-grown companies such as BioLumic and ZeaKal, as well as its most recent investment in Sprout alongside partners Fonterra and OurCrowd. CEDA proudly partners with Sprout and The Factory to fuel innovators and doers, create investment opportunities and build on our regions competitive advantage as a leading agrifood hub.

“It is an exciting time for the agrifood industry globally, and Manawatū is leading the way for Aotearoa,” says Stewart. “With $12.4 million of capital invested into local agritech companies, and $1.6million in R&D grants invested in Manawatū agritech companies during the 2019/20 financial year and being home to more than 3,900 scientists and researchers, Manawatū is a place where people and companies in agritech and agrifood choose to be based.” says Linda Stewart, Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) CEO.

“The regions long commitment to building investment capability in agrifood innovation is further demonstrated through the development and implementation of New Zealand’s first regional AgriTech Strategy. This reinforces the strength and depth of capability and collaboration that we have here and as a result we are seeing investment activity that is far greater than we anticipated.” adds Stewart.

Dean Tilyard, co-founder and director of Sprout, will now serve as Finistere’s New Zealand Venture Partner and lead the new fund.

Tilyard noted, “While more than $46 billion has been invested in agrifood tech over the last decade – a trend likely to increase with the growing focus on sustainability – New Zealand hasn’t had the connected capital players necessary to help our companies take full advantage of this trend. The Finistere NZGCP partnership will make a big difference by being able to lead diligence and financing of local opportunities. Our innovation cluster here is as good as anything in the Netherlands or Israel but has been less known. That is changing.”

The fund will focus on supporting high-potential technologies with a concentration on advanced crop protection technologies, nutrient management, alternative proteins, food delivery, and supply chain advances to promote a healthier, more sustainable agrifood ecosystem. Bringing the fund to Manawatū reinforces Finistere’s commitment to the local ecosystem here, and their commitment to supporting New Zealand’s best and brightest startups.

Co-founder and partner of Finistere Ventures, Arama Kukutai, adds “New Zealand has become a world leader in agricultural research and innovation focused on curtailing the environmental impact of agriculture, fuelled in part by the government’s continued investment and passion for environmental and agricultural efforts. Investing over $250m annually through its public sector institutions, cementing its commitment to a zero-emissions national agriculture strategy and continuing its close partnership with its ag and food ecosystem, New Zealand is a centre for agricultural excellence.”

“Having a strong local presence in Aotearoa has long been on our agenda. We are excited to partner with NZGCP to support the global commercialization of NZ’s most promising agrifood technology advancements,” says Kukutai.

About Finistere Ventures 

Finistere Ventures is a leading global agrifood technology and life sciences venture capital

investor with offices in Palo Alto, San Diego, Ireland, Israel and Manawatū, New Zealand. Its team has developed and invested in some of the most successful agrifood tech companies of the last 20 years – building and backing companies worth more than $5 billion. Visit

Finistere Ventures is a US fund manager, and the partnership is in US dollars, with the amounts in this release being approximate NZ dollar conversions. The actual Elevate commitment is US$10m up to a maximum of US$15m, based on Finistere’s first close of US$20m and targeted final close of US$30m.

One of the headline events for New Zealand AgriFood Week 2021 is AgResearch: Our Food Our Future, which will bring together producers and innovators, agribusiness professionals, scientists and industry thought leaders together to understand the intersection of science, technology and our consumers.

Using a future-focused lens, this event examines and challenges how science and food technology is answering the demands of today’s rising consumer awareness and changing trends. Our speakers will give an overview of the current state of play and have an in-depth discussion, while the audience is encouraged to engage and challenge their thinking. 

The diverse and engaging line up of speakers is set to provide an insightful, thought provoking morning of discussion and debate. Speakers will include: 

Angela Clifford
CEO at Eat New Zealand

North Canterbury farmer, educator, entrepreneur and foodie, Angela Clifford is passionate about food resilience and is the driving force behind Eat New Zealand, a not-for-profit food movement that aims to connect people to the land. As CEO, one of Angela’s goals is to make New Zealand a premium food destination.



Ruaraidh Petre
Executive Director at Global Rountable for Sustainable Beef

With more than 25 years of experience in renewable natural resources development, Ruaraidh Petre has spent the past 12 years focusing on rural development and programmes to enable sustainable rural livelihoods, livestock systems and sustainable supply chains through his leadership position with the Global Roundtable.



Kiri Hannifan
GM Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability at Countdown

As Countdown’s General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability, she is tasked with ensuring three million customers each week have trust in the supermarket brand’s ability to deliver better outcomes for Aotearoa’s environment and communities, as well as Countdown’s team of 21,000 Kiwis.



Thomas King
Founder and CEO at Food Frontier 

Thomas is the founder and CEO of Food Frontier, Australia and New Zealand’s independent think tank and expert advisor on alternative proteins. For the last decade, Thomas has driven food systems, environmental and poverty alleviation initiatives across five continents, and is both a former Young Australian of the Year VIC and Myer Innovation Fellow.


Book your tickets today for AgResearch: Our Food Our Future

Don’t miss out on this headline event, where we will debate, discuss, challenge and plan for the future of agrifood for Aotearoa and the world. Seats are limited, so get in quick.

When: Thursday 6 May – 8:30am – 12:30pm
Where: Awapuni Function Centre, Palmerston North

For 2021, Sort It Careers is moving to a series of sector focused, bespoke events that really highlight significant sectors of strength and growth for Palmerston North and Manawatū in response to demand for more meaningful engagement and to support the significant growth trajectory our regions industries are facing 

Given that New Zealand AgriFood Week is taking place at the beginning of May, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to hold our very first sector specific event, the ‘Sort It Careers – Food & Fibre Edition’ during the Week, focusing on the many career paths this sector offers, from business and technology, through to horticulture, environmental science, innovation, engineering, finance, management and more. 

“The region is on a significant growth trajectory, and we need more talent. Sort It is one of the ways we can help grow the talent pipeline to support our key sectors to plan for the future, while ultimately retaining some of our talent pool here by connecting them with the many career opportunities on offer in these sectors,” says SaraCentral Economic Development Agency (CEDA) Talent and Skills Manager.  

Held on May 6 2021, this sector focused event will run across the whole day, and features a lineup of inspiring and engaging key speakers, debates, and panel discussions, as well as some focused workshops and a select few exhibition stalls. Attendees will engage with the many career opportunities and experiences on offer in food and fibre, showcasing innovation, diversity and the breadth of career options in and around the agrifood industry. 

Attendees can participate iinteractive workshops, facilitated by industry and business leaders, where they’ll gain key connections within the industry, and explore training, education and career opportunities to help choose the next step in their career.  

Building on Manawatū’s position as a global agrifood hub and leveraging Palmerston North’s strategic positioning as the food innovation capital of New Zealand, this fresh and high impact approach supports the sector to plan for the future and engage with the next generation of talent. 

Sort It is delivered by CEDA with a range of sponsors and partners. 


With COVID-19 cancelling the ability to have the traditional in-person Expo in 2020, the event moved entirely online – holding the first careers expo event in Aotearoa since COVID-19. 

Following the online edition, the feedback received suggested that the move to a more tailored, sector specific approach provided more meaningful engagement and discussions for our future talent pool. So we adapted and pivoted like everyone else and are now excited to announce first sector specific event, the ‘Sort It Careers – Food & Fibre Edition’. 

We felt this required further engagement with our stakeholders to understand the benefits, challenges and opportunities of Sort It, so that we could ensure that future events provided real value for students, talent, businesses and training providers alike. So, through workshops, focus groups, and an online survey we got feedback and direction from 57 businesses/employers, 773 students and parents, and 12 schools and education providers. 

What we found was that while Sort It allows engagement with a large number of students and career changers, the value of engagement with employers and training providers was very limited in the traditional expo format, and tended to be a once-off interaction. While attendees valued the connection with employers at the expo, they felt it didn’t provide a platform for deeper conversations,” says Sara, CEDA Talent and Skills Manager. 

Additionally, feedback from our previous exhibitors also told us that while there were high numbers of students attending, they did not have the opportunity to tell the story of what it is like working in their specific industry. They expressed that the expo provided an opportunity to raise their brand profile but missed the mark for real, valuable engagement with attendees. 

Sitting at the intersection of agriculture, science, food, and technology, the annual New Zealand AgriFood Week 2021 is a unique coming together of diverse fields to facilitate future-focused conversations between leading players throughout the entire food value chain and is scheduled to take place 3-9 May.  

“New Zealand AgriFood Week celebrates and showcases excellence in agrifood innovation, inspiring the next generation of leaders, producers, scientists, innovators and change makers by providing the nation and the world with a window to fresh, positive views and discussion on the future of food,” says Linda Stewart, CEO of the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA). 

“Held in Manawatū, the Week brings together the brightest big thinkers, innovators and thought leaders in agritech and agrifood – all keen to connect, collaborate, and plan for the future of food here in Aotearoa and the world,” adds Stewart. 

For 2021, the Week’s theme will delve into the scientific, technological and talent solutions that can be applied to the sector to ensure sustainable growth and resilience in a competitive global market of rising consumer awareness and changing trends.  

It’s this positioning that has brought our new naming sponsor for 2021 partner onboard, with crown research institute AgResearch now confirmed as partner to the Week. The Week is a great fit for AgResearch as its work spans agriculture, science, food and technology, and CEDA are proud to be working alongside this iconic national organisation. 

“It gives us an excellent opportunity to share how our science is helping transform agriculture so that we produce even better products and returns for New Zealand, while also reducing the impact on the climate and our waterways,” says AgResearch Chief Executive Sue Bidrose. 

Headline Events for 2021 

An exciting line up of events is planned during the Week including forums, workshops, conferences and gastronomic delights. Throughout the Week there will be over 15 events taking place in Manawatū that attendees can pick and choose from, including AgResearch Our Food Our Future, Sort It Careers – Food & Fibre Edition, Beef + Lamb NZ AgInnovation Conference, ASB Future Leaders, plus many more. 

New Zealand AgriFood Week plays a crucial role in in the strategic positioning of the region as a global agrifood hub and provides a platform for industry, researchers, policy makers, and consumers to challenge, cross pollinate, foster ideas, and develop clear pathways to actionable outcomes that seek to solve some of the world’s biggest food challenges. The Week’s speakers, panellists and presenters will be from a diverse range of fields and background, providing valuable insight, engaging discussion, and robust debate. 

New Zealand AgriFood Week, in association with AgResearch, is delivered by CEDA with a range of sponsors and partners. 

CEDA is excited to announce that New Zealand AgriFood Week is back for 2021!

Sitting at the intersection of agriculture, science, food and technology, the Week is a unique coming together of diverse fields to facilitate future-focused discussions and actions between sector leaders throughout the entire value chain.

New Zealand AgriFood Week is a highlight of the Manawatū agrifood community, it is the only week dedicated to celebrating and showcasing excellence in agrifood tech and innovation, inspiring the next generation of scientists, innovators, farmers and change agents.

You spoke, we listened
With an already exciting line up we are thrilled to announce our latest add-on to the Week, Sort It Careers – Food & Fibre Edition. We’ve got a special opportunity to have all the movers and shakers in the industry together – so why not look to the future of agrifood while we’re at it!

Through workshops, focus groups, and an online survey we heard from 57 businesses/employers, 773 students and parents, and 12 schools and education providers who expressed that while Sort It allows engagement with a large number of students and career changers, the value of engagement with employers and training providers was very limited, and tended to be a once-off interaction.

So we’ve adapted! We will be moving to a series of sector focused events that really highlight significant sectors of strength for Palmy and Manawatū.

We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to hold our very first sector specific event, Sort It Careers – Food & Fibre Edition, during the Week, focusing on the many career paths this sector offers, from business and technology, through to horticulture, environmental science, engineering and finance, management and more.

Watch this space
The Week is host to a variety of events taking place in Manawatū that attendees can pick and choose from, including the ASB Future Leaders Workshop, Beef + Lamb NZ AgInnovation, Kai Whenua – a food celebration dinner, Agtech Hackathon, AgResearch Our Food Our Future, Land Diversification Forum in association with ASB, and many more.

Keep a look out as we’ll be sharing event details, speaker line ups and exciting announcements over the coming weeks so you can plan your New Zealand AgriFood Week this May.

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