Agribusiness Investment Showcase connects business to capital
OPINION: New Zealand ticks all the boxes for its potential to produce world leading agricultural technologies – it has an economy built on primary industries and a long history of expertise in agriculture, as well as a culture of innovation.
This is why I see huge potential for New Zealand agritech businesses to grow internationally.
The latest estimates value the agritech sector at around $1.2 billion, and investors are taking notice.
But lack of capital and relative isolation from markets remains a problem for many New Zealand agritech enterprises wanting to expand.
Businesses developing cutting-edge technologies in the primary, industrial and environmental sectors spend a lot of time and money on research and development, and testing, before going to market.
In the early stages of business they need capital before they can go after commercialisation and earn money back on investment.
It can be difficult for these companies to access capital in order to stay at the front of the pack when it comes to innovation.
This is why part of our role at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) is to connect high-growth companies to the right kind of capital, whether this is from a strategic investor, financial institution, venture capital firm, bank funding or other source.
To help achieve this, we are hosting an investment showcase on March 17 in Feilding in association with ASB, to introduce high-growth New Zealand businesses to people who can help them fast track their international growth. The showcase also aims to raise the profile of New Zealand's agritech sector internationally.
Around 80 qualified local and international investors will hear 11 agritech businesses pitch for investment.
Some are emerging enterprises looking for seed funding and connections, while others are going to market with a commercial product, or are looking to grow exports.
Five will be graduates of Sprout, the new national agritech accelerator. The remaining six will be NZTE customers.
Participants are looking not just for financial capital but for the benefits capital can bring – such as access to new export markets, global supply chains and knowledge.
Investors who can open doors in the agritech sector are highly valuable. An investor who brings in-market skills and connections, as well as cash, will always trump a passive investor who sits on the sidelines.
We're tapping into our team of international investment specialists and their networks of investors in New Zealand and around the world.
We're also helping companies to prepare for investment, which includes working with them to develop a bespoke capital plan.
We've been working closely with regional agencies in the Manawatu to make the 2016 New Zealand Agribusiness Investment Showcase part of New Zealand Agri Investment Week (NZAWI).
NZAWI is a new Manawatu initiative in association with ASB that is bringing people together to meet to learn, collaborate and invest in New Zealand's agri sector. The programme includes Central District Field Days and many other vibrant sector opportunities and leisure activities.
NZTE is running a series of investment showcases to connect high-growth New Zealand companies to capital, and to raise the profile of some of New Zealand's strongest sectors internationally. Past participants include:
· Wilding & Co, a Queenstown company that converts environmentally-hazardous wilding pines into high-value essential oils, pitched for capital at the 2015 New Zealand Agribusiness Investment Showcase to buy equipment to fulfil a potential order with US company doTERRA, the largest reseller of essential oil in the world. After working through a capital plan the company decided to fund the equipment through existing shareholders to maintain control of its operations. Wilding & Co has since signed a multi-year international export contract with doTERRA and is selling its essential oils worldwide.
· After pitching at the 2015 New Zealand Agribusiness Investment Showcase, Figured, an Auckland-based software as a service company providing financial management software for farms, sourced investment from Tauranga-based Enterprise Angels. The investment was used to grow its business and target further exports, beginning in Australia.
· Biolumic, based in Palmerston North, applies UV light treatments to improve the performance of outdoor crops/plants. Biolumic used the preparation process leading up to the 2015 Agribusiness Investment Showcase to review its pitch, which helped it to attract $2 million investment to fund new technology and R&D to support expansion into Australian and US markets.
· Auckland-based career-pathing software company Fuel 50 took part in NZTE's 2015 Pitch on a Peak tech investment showcase in October last year, which helped the company to close a funding round to support its expansion plans into the US.
The 2016 New Zealand Agribusiness Investment Showcase will host:
Sprout graduates: Sensee, Bee'z Thingz, Logic Labs, AgTract and AgriTrack.
NZTE customers: Autogrow, Liquidstrip, Outpost Central, Photonic Innovations, Sunfed and UBCO
Quentin Quin is general manager capital with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise