The Sprout team were invited to speak at the Future Farms conference in Palmerston North, which is held as part of NZ AgriFood Week. It was a pleasure to be asked to speak about the status of the Agritech ecosystem.
Our message was simple, the ecosystem is thriving.
Would you agree?
We shared examples of two companies with amazing innovations that have leveraged the Sprout ecosystem of investors, service providers, R&D skills and experienced business advisors. One of those companies recently raised a $5M round of Venture Capital (VC) from investors in the US, NZ and Europe. This new capital is an acknowledgement of the impact that this innovation could have on agriculture and will give the company the resource it needs to grow.
However, what interested us the most during the event were two questions which were asked during the QnA session. These questions are frequently asked, so we thought they're worth talking about.
Q1: Why, with all this technology and innovation, do we still struggle with adoption on farm…is it a generation issue, where the young people coming through will use it more than us?
Sprout Answer: No its not generational, it’s purely that there are a lot of people building very average products that don't add value to the farmers life. When Sprout team member Stu Bradbury invented Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI), farmers got it. Efficient use of water added value to their business and they adopted the technology.
At Sprout we focus our companies on spending more time understanding the problem and not starting to build anything until they have identifying the problem and the value it has for the customer. This will then translate to understanding what the customer is willing to pay.
Q2: With new technology and innovation being adopted on farm, how do we use that to sell the New Zealand story and help us sell our products?
Sprout Answer: ‘New Zealand’ doesn’t sell anything. Companies and people do. The idea of the New Zealand story selling anything is flawed. If farmers are unhappy that investments in innovation by them or their processor/milk collector are not translating to increased revenue, then they should change their processor/collector. Farmers should not be fooled by Corporate word smiths, using fancy words.
Food for thought.
We're interested in your view - do you agree that technology adoption is slow? Are farmers processors doing a poor job of innovating? Comment below.