We interviewed Mark Harris, from Corporate Partner Gallagher to find out a little bit more about their involvement in agritech and ask what he thought the future held for the agritech industry.
Q: What’s your view on the agritech industry in New Zealand?
A: It’s quite vibrant. The agritech industry is a $1.2billion industry and there is a lot of talk around how NZ could do better. The sector is best clustered around our own farming strengths, which you see today. Areas such as pastoral agricultural, seed genetics, water systems, animal health etc. That’s where our strength and knowledge is, so we should be capitalising on it. Overall the industry is strong and I’m hoping it can become more significant over time.
Q: Where do you think agritech will have the biggest impact in New Zealand’s Primary Industry?
A: That’s an interesting question. It’s already having a big impact. I think genetic advancement of our animals, and improved forages to deal with climate extremes will be where we'll gain some benefits. However, it’ll be the new technology that helps us reduce our environmental footprint, improve environmental performance and increase production which will have the biggest impact.
“It’s about not harming the profitability of farming and at the moment there are gaps. Agritech will help to fill these gaps.”
We can’t overlook other areas where new technologies will help, such as labour efficiencies. There have been constant advancements over years to produce more per labour unit - we’ll see more of that. New tools to help farmers with decision making around key drivers of performance will also start to emerge strongly.
Q. Please describe Gallagher’s involvement in agritech both nationally and internationally:
A: Agritech is the fundamental component of our organisation. It allows Gallagher's as an organisation to grow, by allowing them to take solutions globally and tailoring them to suit the markets. We can only learn about the market by being in it. This is how we learn how to differentiate ourselves from the competitors. Gallagher understands how it’s key for businesses to be within their target market, to understand the markets challenges and develop a product that is providing that market a solution.
Q: What would be your one piece of advice for:
1. Farmers around the adoption of agritech
2. Agritech Entrepreneurs looking to solve a problem
A1: Seek out to understand what the innovators are doing in the industry and learn from them. Do your homework on the economics of some of the innovations for your business. Farmers need to see new technology as a means to improve their business and to seek out new ways to make their business more competitive.
“You need to look to be constantly changing Be dissatisfied with the status quo and seek new ways to do things. In five years time you can’t be doing what you’re doing today - it’s important to move and look to the future."
A2: It is really important for agritech entrepreneurs to seek out advice from the people who have successfully done it before. Clearly understand the value your solution is offering. Ensure you validate your solution over and over again to make sure you’re working in an area that is going to add value to the customer. Understand the supply chain and understand where the costs lie in taking the product to market. This will help you to ensure you have a business case for what you’re really doing.
Q: Why did Gallagher join the Sprout Corporate Partner family?
A: We really hope to see the agritech industry stronger over time. This is one of the reasons why we invested in Sprout, so we could help those with ideas get traction and convert their ideas into successful businesses.
The main reason we partnered up is because we want to see a vibrant agritech scene. We see Sprout as a great way to promote this and to help companies ask and answer the questions in the answer above (A2.)
The team at Gallagher doesn’t create all the ideas.
We’re looking for entrepreneurs to come to us with ideas so we can leverage markets in a wider space. We have an incredible ability to deliver products internationally, so if we can help others grow their businesses internationally then that’s great. We’re all about the new ideas, so want to play a key role in helping promote agritech and see it become a vibrant community.
Being part of the Sprout agritech accelerator programme can help us to do just that.
Gallagher’s is a really well established business, it really understands its brand, its customers in each market, and the need to continue to innovate.
With an ethos like this, to ensure they’re always providing a solution for their markets, it’s no wonder agritech is at the heart of the Gallagher brand.