Thursday, 17 February 2022 16:30

Callaghan Innovation: Connecting industry problems with startup solutions

Written by  Sophie Preece
Simon Yarrow Simon Yarrow

Gaining exposure to relevant innovation, "without being swamped in the sheer volume of options", is one of the main challenges for winegrowers considering agrictech.

That was one of the findings of a Callaghan Innovation and Bragato Research Institute collaborative 'innovation discovery workshop' held last year, says Simon Yarrow, Group Manager AgriFood Callaghan Innovation. "There is a strong desire for a well curated and facilitated service that can be tapped into and ideally driven from industry problems."

The workshop, held with 10 winegrowing companies, followed on from an Agritech Connector Event for the wine sector, which brought together key research, technology and industry players, including Tātou, Hectre, and Smart Machine.

The subsequent workshop sought to learn more about "problem discovery" in winegrowing, and the industry's willingness to work collaboratively, as well as opportunities and barriers to technology uptake. Simon says they also wanted to learn more about development of "technology talent" now and in the future, as well as gaps in that realm. "Grower groups are also challenged with finding the right talent and skills to support technology within their organisation, and the need is only going to grow."

Meanwhile, Callaghan Innovation is working on initiatives that support startups in achieving scale and relevance for an international market. "New Zealand agritech companies are typically very strong in terms of their technical capability," says Simon og the Global Signals initiative designed to assist companies with international aspirations. "However, very few are built to scale quickly. Most tend to test and solve problems for the New Zealand market before thinking about their global strategy."

He says Callaghan Innovation wants to "transform" the companies it works with by improving their innovation and forecasting capabilities, to help them identify and solve big problems for the global market. "To do that we need to equip organisations with the tools and resources globally from day one by coming up with solutions to the big challenges facing the agriculture sector around the world."

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