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Trans-Tasman collaboration driving global innovation and action in 2022

2022 is set to bring the Trans-Tasman agrifood innovation community together to tackle the big conversations across farming, natural resource management and sustainable supply-chains. With three events scheduled – evokeAG. West (Feb 2022), evokeAG. East, and the inaugural 2035 Oceania Summit (Auckland, April 2022) – farmers, investors, researchers, innovators, corporates and government will come together to connect, collaborate and take action.

Despite uncertainty, lockdowns, travel restrictions, and a staggering number of Zoom meetings, there has been a lot happening across agrifood innovation in the last 18-months. There have been new technologies and food products launched, and projects, investments and collaborations started and come to fruition.

COVID-19 has taught us many things, including what can be achieved with investment and global collaboration centred around one goal.

RELATED: Global collaboration needed to drive Australian agrifood innovation

It can feel a little overwhelming to think of the impacts of climate, a growing global population, fragile supply-chains and markets – and the steps that are needed to address them. However, the reality is, there is plenty already being done, we just need to ensure we are doing it together.

“There has been a lot of infrastructure, investment and groundwork done in the last year to support a more collaborative and efficient innovation system, locally and globally,” says AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, John Harvey. “The launch of growAG., the formation and launch of Agricultural Innovation Australia (AIA), and the Australian Agritech Association, will allow us to be better organised and effective when looking to create real impact across the supply-chain.”

But it is not only Australia that has been getting its house in order, New Zealand have long been working as a team to drive innovation and sustainability, and now it is time that we work better together.

RELATED: From social platform to Platfarm: Oli Madgett brings tech to the vineyard and beyond

“There is intent, there are shared goals, and now it is time to get everyone – farmers, innovators, researchers, investors, corporates and government – together in the same room to deliver on action items and create more momentum to deliver outcomes for farmers, rural industries, and all of those individuals and communities that rely on them thriving.”

John knows the importance of creating these opportunities across industry to come together to create connections and support collaboration, after being involved in the delivery of two successful evokeAG. events in 2019 and 2020.

“The excitement with everyone in the one room is palpable, and the outcomes of the connections made are tangible,” John says, with a glimpse of that excitement, “there are deals done, partnerships formed and pennies dropping.”

To mitigate the risk of COVID-19 uncertainty, evokeAG. 2022 will be delivered through two one-day events in Perth (February 2022) and Sydney (March 2022), with a format that supports networking and hearing from industry leaders about what’s next for agrifood innovation. While global travel will not have returned to pre-COVID capacity, a strong New Zealand delegation is expected to attend the events.

RELATED: How closed borders have affected New Zealand’s agrifood tech sector 

Now there is also a third event on the calendar that will see Australians in agrifood innovation descending on Auckland in April 2022.

Peter and Jacqui Wren-Hilton, long-time trans-Tasman collaborators and supporters of evokeAG. and Wharf42 founders, have launched the 2035 Oceania Summit, with a focus on bringing together innovators and decision makers to focus on climate action.

“Over the years, there has been no lack of trans-Tasman talk,” says Peter. “With climate change, the time for talking is over. The 2035 Oceania Summit will therefore have a very strong action-based focus in its agenda.”

A champion for trans-Tasman collaboration – through his previous role as Executive Director of AgritechNZ, and now as their Head of Global Alliances, as Co-founder and CEO of Wharf42, Co-Founder and Council Member of the Australian and New Zealand Agritech Council, advisor to the Australian Agritech Association, and evokeAG. Steering Committee member since 2018 – and most recently as the Co-Founder of the 2035 Oceania Summit.

“I think we have already seen the benefits of increased regional collaboration,” explains Peter. “At an industry level, the Australian Agritech Association and Agritech New Zealand signed an agreement to increase trans-Tasman collaboration and opportunity earlier this year. In September 2019, at the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum annual meeting in Auckland, partners on both sides of the Tasman established the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council.”

What have been the dividends of increased collaboration?

“The world of agritech has taken note. Our region is now being seen globally as an increasingly significant international hub. The announcement that evokeAG. and the 2035 Oceania Summit are collaborating across three major events in 2022 is only increasing that interest. I believe that this will be just one of the long-term legacies of this collaboration.”

Peter believes that the time is now to bring a wide range of stakeholders together to look at how technology and innovation can address the pressing issues facing the global supply-chain.

“I have always believed that agrifood tech needs to have purpose. Tech by itself is irrelevant if it does not meet a specific customer need.”

RELATED: Australia’s agrifood tech leaders join forces to drive on-farm adoption

“I can think of no other purpose more challenging for farmers and growers long-term than the impact of our changing climate,” continued Peter. “Demand for nutritious and affordable food continues to increase exponentially as the world’s population approaches 10 billion by 2050.”

“Delivering that food against a backdrop of more extreme weather events, including droughts and floods, means that agrifood tech and accelerated innovation will be critical to assist our farmers and growers meet this existential threat.”

Working with evokeAG. to bring together key stakeholders and deliver tangible outcomes of this Trans-Tasman collaboration is a critical element of planning in the lead up to the three events.

“A number of key themes are currently being considered by the summit’s steering committee and these will form the basis of a number of Calls to Action, both before, during and after the Summit.”

And why is it so important to address these challenges as a region?

“Our intention is to engage as many key stakeholder groups as possible in this endeavour. No single group can address the challenge posed by climate change. It will take the combined effort of the many to develop the solutions and the tools necessary to help farmers and growers address these major challenges.”

Planning and programming for the evokeAG. 2022 event and the 2035 Oceania Summit are well underway, and organisers are confident that the agrifood innovation community will come together face-to-face to make 2022 a year to remember – for all the right reasons!


Event details

evokeAG. What’s next? – Perth, WA
23 February 2022
Sandalford Wines
Tickets on sale now

evokeAG. What’s next? – Sydney, NSW
15 March 2022
The Grounds of Alexandria
Tickets on sale now

2035 Oceania Summit – Auckland, NZ
26 – 27 April 2022
The Aotea Centre
Tickets on sale in November – register interest now

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