New Zealand agritech innovators are exploring new ways to feed the world. Join the conversation in Tauranga on 23 May.
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Techweek NZ Headline Event

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World-leading dairy and horticultural industries have established New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of fine food, and now the country’s collaborative agricultural ecosystem is shifting its focus to the development of sustainable ways to feed the world. Will the future of food production rely on robots and data, or a global consumer shift toward alternative proteins? Join the discussion in Tauranga on 23 May and meet the new artisans of agricultural innovation that’s good for the world.

Ticket sales close on Monday 21 May at 6pm - subject to availability. There will be no on the door ticket sales.

  • Agriculture
  • Robots
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Techweek NZ Headline Event


Dr Alistair Scarfe grew up in agriculture where he developed a passion for using technology to improve farming. He has been developing agricultural robotic systems since 2008, including building the prototype autonomous kiwifruit harvester for his PhD thesis. Alistair is a founder of Robotics Plus and sits across chief technical officer and company director roles, making him responsible for overseeing the execution of all of Robotics Plus' projects.
Arama Kukutai's connection to agriculture in Aotearoa goes back seven generations. On his father's side, he is of Ngāti Maniapoto and Te Aupōuri descent, and his family have farmed in New Zealand for decades. He's continued in the family line, working for over 20 years in agribusiness. He served as as executive chairman of PKW Farms, a successful agribusiness and diversified investment entity involved in dairy farming and aquaculture activities in New Zealand, Asia and Australia. Arama also led the New Zealand government’s Trade and Investment agency in North America, following which he emigrated to the USA.

In 2005, he and Dr. Jerry Caulder co-founded Finistere Ventures, a pioneer in the agriculture and food technology sector. Kukutai led the creation of Finistere’s global network in agritech which includes offices in Tel Aviv, San Diego and Silicon Valley, and Dublin, Ireland in partnership with the Irish Strategic Investment Fund. Finistere is one of the leading agritech focused venture funds, and is partnered with industry leaders including Nutrien, Bayer, Pepsico, Graincorp and International Farming Corporation. Kukutai serves on the boards as a Director or Observer of Finistere portfolio companies AgGenetics, Biolumic, Crop Pro Insurance, CropX, Hi Fidelity Genetics, Plenty, Taranis and Zeakal. Mr. Kukutai is an active member of the agritech investing community - currently investing from Finistere Ventures' second fund - and a regular presenter at leading industry events.
Ben Shaw joined Comvita in September 2015 as General Manager Category. He was previously Senior Category Manager at Asahi Premium Beverages where he oversaw the Beer and Cider portfolios.

During this period he launched a number of new brands including the Boundary Road Brewery craft beer range and worked with multiple international brand owners. Prior to this he was Marketing Manager at Les Mills International and held numerous marketing roles at DB Breweries.
David Hughes is Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing at Imperial College London. He travels the world talking to businesses, trade associations, governments and conferences on global developments in the food and drink industry. David has lived and worked in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa and South East Asia and has extensive experience as an international advisory board member with food companies and financial service organizations on three continents. For 20 years, he was a Non-Executive Director of Berry Gardens Ltd – a U.K. farmer-owned berry fruit business (£230 million turnover in 2015). With his American business partner, David established, grew and sold a branded fresh produce business which served supermarkets in the USA.
Experienced and awarded plant and fruit researcher Dr. Ian Ferguson was the Departmental Science Advisor at the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries from 2012-2017. He was Chief Scientist of Plant & Food Research, and formerly HortResearch, for 10 years from 2003. Prior to that he was leader of the HortResearch Postharvest Group and is a leading NZ and international researcher in plant science, horticulture and postharvest science.
Eric is co-founder and managing director of Fall Line Capital, bringing over 18 years of professional investment, financial services and operating experience to the firm. Prior to forming Fall Line with Clay Mitchell in 2011, Eric spent 12 years at Lightspeed Venture Partners, a top tier Silicon Valley venture capital firm with over $3 billion of assets under management. At Lightspeed, he was a Managing Director responsible for early and growth stage investments in technology and services companies in the U.S. and China.

Eric has a track record of identifying and executing effectively against emerging market opportunities. In 2004, he identified a strategic opportunity for Lightspeed to expand its activities to China, where very few U.S. venture capital firms had established themselves at the time. That year, he sourced the firm’s first investment in the region and led the creation of Lightspeed’s overall strategy for China. In 2006, he moved himself and his family to Shanghai for five months to help formally establish Lightspeed’s China office, build the local investment team, and make several of the firm’s initial investments in the region, one of which became the firm’s first successful liquidity event in China.
George Kellerman is a founding member of Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley ("YMVSV") where he serves as the COO and General Partner. George leads YMVSV's global AgTech initiatives, and he is primarily focused on in-field agricultural automation and robotics. Before joining YMVSV George was a venture capitalist investing in early-stage startups, and he also served as a senior executive at companies such as Dell, Experian, and Yahoo!.
Kirk Haney
Kirk is the CEO and Managing Partner of Radicle Growth, a $15M accelerator fund focused on transforming the speed of innovation in agriculture. Under Kirk’s leadership, Radicle secured top tier financial and corporate investors including Finistere Ventures, $150M agtech fund, OurCrowd, $300M funding platform, Bayer Crop Science and DuPont Pioneer. Radicle is partnering with great entrepreneurs to bring disruptive innovation to market while leveraging the platform’s global network to accelerate the development of the new technologies.
Previously, Kirk served as President and CEO of SGB, an agricultural biotechnology company, from 2007 to 2014. Under Kirk’s leadership, SGB became a leader in the development of new crops for food, energy and industrial markets and raised $40M from institutional and corporate investors. Prior to SGB, Kirk was the Chairman and President of Green Millennium. Kirk raised more than $120M in venture and private equity to develop, plant, and manage sustainable reforestation programs in Central America. A majority share of the company was sold to a $3 billion private equity firm in 2007.
Prior to his work in sustainable agriculture, he held senior management positions for 3Com Corporation, ArrowPoint Communications (acquired by Cisco Systems for $5.9B) and Cisco Systems.
Lee-Ann is Market Innovation Manager at Beef & Lamb New Zealand and her role is to create value for New Zealand’s red meat sector by looking out to the future and identifying opportunities arising from disruption. Lee-Ann is both a proud Canadian and New Zealander and is passionate about the primary industries.

Her background is in global consumer insights and innovation and has spent time in the UK working for global companies in tech and FMCG before moving onto roles at dairy giant Fonterra, Nestlé (Oceania) and now Beef & Lamb New Zealand.

Lee-Ann recently led a review of alternative protein for the red meat sector which explores new food technologies, business models and the trends that are driving them. This work is positioning the red meat sector to respond to the forces of disruption and to ensure a sustainable future for sheep and beef farmers.
Louise is a partner and Director of FORWARD Insight and Strategy with over 25 years’ experience in insight, brand development, design thinking and strategic planning across a range of sectors – tourism, primary sector, FMCG and services marketing.

Louise is passionate about building successful brands that have a story to tell and supporting New Zealand businesses to realize their growth potential both in New Zealand and in export markets.

Louise is a qualitative research specialist with a curiosity and fascination in what makes people tick, what inspires them how to build great futures.

Spending extensive time in markets globally, leading research and insight projects, has given Louise an in depth of knowledge of local consumers, and a foundation for developing a clear and focused brand and market development strategies.
Mel Auld is responsible for providing thought leadership in all aspects of Zespri’s marketing strategy and management, with a specific responsibility for new product development.

Based in Mount Maunganui, Mel has been with Zespri for 12 years, formerly as Communications Manager, leading the company’s communications strategy for the industry, media, employees and on crisis communications. With a background in PR and communications, Mel previously held communications roles at Skycity Entertainment Group and Carter Holt Harvey.
Nicky Molloy is a business innovation advisor within Callaghan Innovation's Agritech team. She has over 20 years experience working across the food supply chain for companies such as Goodman Fielder, Kiwi Dairies and Tatua Co-op Dairies, both with a New Zealand focus and global ambition. Focusing now at the start of the food chain, she is working with agritech companies across NZ to help farmers work smarter, not harder. She is passionate about building a strong agritech sector in NZ that is connected, collaborative and recognised globally as a leader in innovation solutions on-farm.
Peter has 30 years of experience in design thinking and design practice, working in NZ, the UK and in Luxembourg. He is a director of phd3, a design integration coach on the NZTE Better by Design programme, past Graphics Convenor of the Best Design Awards and a Fellow of the Designers’ Institute of NZ. He is also chair of the advisory committee for the AUT Communications Design program.
Rod Oram is a New Zealand journalist writing on corporate, economic and political issues. He is a columnist for The Sunday Star-Times, a regular broadcaster on radio and television and a frequent public speaker.
Dr. Rosie Bosworth is a future of foods strategist, speaker, and communications specialist. She is passionate about creating a sustainable, progressive and scaleable global food system fit for a growing world.

Her work centres around the intersection of tech, science and biotech, and new global food systems, her specialist topic alternative protein food systems and controlled (indoor) farming.

Rosie works as an advisor to business, industry and government on the various strategic pathways forward in the future of food and agriculture, and is also an experienced journalist and regular keynote speaker (including TEDx) on the future of food.

Rosie has a PhD in environmental innovation and sustainable technology development. Much of her research was undertaken at the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, and her research took her to learn from the world’s top think tanks & innovators across the NL, Australia, Germany, Belgium & Australia.
Sarah’s role with NZ Story is to show how businesses can leverage their connection to New Zealand to create relationships with distributors and consumers alike. She brings with her a wealth of experience in B2B Marketing – both in Europe and New Zealand. She has worked with corporates and small start-up businesses and understands the importance of building positive relationships and providing great customer experiences. On weekends Sarah can be found on either a mountain bike, sail boat, horseback or tramping on her own two feet; basically anything that results in exploring the great outdoors.
Sarah Nolet is a globally recognized food systems innovation expert. Sarah works across the global food system supply chain, helping farmers, agribusinesses, universities, investors and entrepreneurs to achieve their goals. Sarah holds a Masters in system design and management from MIT, a certificate in sustainability from the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan, and a B.S. in computer science and human factors engineering from Tufts University. Sarah is also a writer, startup investor and advisor.
Shane works as innovation manager for the Bay of Plenty, a joint role between the University of Waikato and Priority One (Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty’s economic development organisation). In this role, he focusses on facilitating collaboration and exploring new opportunities at the interface of research and business in the region. He is currently managing the establishment of PlanTech, the new regional research institute involving 10 organisations including eight companies, and has also supported successful large-scale collaborations in powder metallurgy, cybersecurity and robotics.
Steven Saunders (Ngāti Ranginui) has 34 years’ experience in the horticultural and food sector and is the founder, owner and managing director of the Plus Group of companies, specialising in horticulture management consultancy, orchard ownership, global pollen production, robotic development (Robotics Plus ltd), international ventures, applied technology, environmental research, innovation and science.

Steven is the co-founder of Newnham Park Innovation Centre in Tauranga (NZ), which hosts eight local export award winning independent companies predominately in the food sector. He's also a major stakeholder in the kiwifruit Industry; an active angel investor; a director of many privately-owned companies and tech startups; an elected member of the executive board for Priority One (driving economic growth in the Bay of Plenty, NZ); and independent director at Lincoln Hub, Agrigate, Māori Economic Development Advisory Board, and founding shareholder and director of Rockit Global Limited.

Steven is an active member of the Te Hono Stanford Business School Alumni, Nuku Ki Te Puku (Māori food and beverage cluster) and Te Tiro Toi Whakangao (Māori tech cluster).

Steven is a founder, shareholder and director of “WNT Ventures” tech incubator and a founding member of PlantTech, Tauranga (NZ) recently awarded Regional Research Institute, a Private sector - Government initiative.

Steven was awarded the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, Westpac “Business Leadership Award in 2014” and the Tauranga Boys College 2016 old boy award.
Todd Muller was born in Te Aroha and raised in Te Puna. He attended Tauranga Boys College before earning his Master’s Degree from the University of Waikato.

His career experience includes roles as a General Manager for Zespri, Chief Executive of Bay of Plenty company Apata, and most recently as Group Director Cooperative Affairs for Fonterra.

He is a former University of Waikato Councillor, and sat on the Boards of Plant & Food Research and the Sustainable Business Council.

During his time in Parliament Todd has served as the Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, and as the Deputy Chairperson of the Education and Science Select Committee.

He is currently the Opposition Spokesperson for Climate Change and Deputy Chair of the Environment Select Committee.

Todd is married to Michelle and is father to their three children, Aimee, Bradley, and Amelia.
Toni is currently CEO of The Lincoln Hub, He Puna KariKari, an agrifood tech science and innovation cluster focused on landing innovation through collaboration and connections created between growers, industry, research and education in New Zealand’s and the world’s Agrifood and technology sector . She has had over 20 years’ experience in agriculture, food and beverage, consulting and industrial sectors across corporate strategy, transforming the customer experience, designing and delivering growth initiatives and technology solutions, establishing new business models and ventures across multiple stakeholders and geographies.
Techweek NZ Headline Event


10.45am - 11.00am
Morning Tea
Start-up showcase, sponsored by Fonterra, Farm Source
3.00pm -3.15pm
Afternoon Tea
Robotics Plus showcase
Networking reception

Thank you to our sponsors

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