At the end of 2019, the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) launched the Manawatū Agritech Strategy, which was developed in partnership with the global agritech accelerator Sprout and regional stakeholders including iwi, education and training providers, business owners and entrepreneurs, for a coordinated approach to growing the sector for the benefit of New Zealand’s food industry. It is the first regional strategy of its kind, focused on agritech, in New Zealand.
“As an economic development agency it is our role to identify our comparative and competitive advantages as a region, to build on our strengths, with laser focus, to set this direction, secure buy-in from stakeholders, and then facilitate, connect and drive it to make it actually happen,” says CEDA’s Chief Executive Linda Stewart.
“This means partnerships are critical for CEDA and underpin everything we do – including our success.”
The strategy, which won the Economic Development New Zealand award for Best Practice 2019, is underpinned by four pillars that will drive the region towards achieving its goal of being recognised as one of the top three agrifood hubs in the world.
The pillars are Fueling Doers, Growing Talent, Creating a Temple and Building Manawatū’s Brand.
Within a framework of these four pillars, a one to three-year overview has been developed, identifying the activities and initiatives that are already underway and what else is needed, to help accelerate the sector’s growth.
Initiatives already underway include the Rural Innovation Lab, FoodHQ’s PGF application and New Zealand AgriFood Week. New initiatives include an agritech section at the Sort It Careers Expo, an agritech PR fund established between CEDA and industry, and local restaurants being connected to future of food, endorsed by FoodHQ.
“Having a regional strategy focused on agritech will set Manawatū apart when it comes to attracting businesses, investment and talent,” says The Factory’s Chief Executive Dean Tilyard, who presented on behalf of Sprout. The Factory, which delivers Sprout, exists to equip entrepreneurs with the skills, networks and funding they need to succeed.
“The benefits of having a regional strategy include improved ability to attract capital and resources,” says Tilyard.
“For a small region in New Zealand, being able to offer potential investors and strategic players a menu of capability, knowledge and activity that they can access in one visit or one engagement means the return on investment for their engagement with the region is significantly increased.”
He says when a community has a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities and who does what, everyone can move faster and ensure activities are complementary, rather than duplicating or reinventing the wheel.
“The Manawatū region is making strides towards our collective goal of being recognised as one of the world’s top three global agrifood hubs.
“Today [the strategy launch] is about planting the seed and getting everyone to think with a wider regional lens – to consider what is possible if we pool expertise, resources and money, to really showcase Manawatū to attract the talent, expertise and investment we know is needed to grow your business, and our region.”
For a copy of the Manawatū Agritech Strategy overview, click here.