News and Success Stories

Published 08 July 2022

Agritech success at the NZ Primary Industries Awards

Awards ceremonyToday we’re celebrating two Kiwi tech businesses as finalists in the Primary Industries New Zealand Awards – MilktechNZ and Hydroxsys. The Primary Industries Awards offer an opportunity to celebrate businesses that are the cornerstone of one of New Zealand’s largest sectors. 

And it’s timely too – interest in the role of agritech to support the ongoing growth of the primary industries is increasing. 

Just this week, the TIN200 Agritech report showed that 2021 broke records for agritech investment with 11 deals totalling $15.4m secured across the year. That’s more than triple the previous year’s investment total of $4.5m. 

There’s no disputing the need for agritech is increasing too. The primary industries are under greater pressure than ever before to respond to environmental damage, wastage and health concerns. 

With primary produce being the backbone of the New Zealand economy (and a critical part of the wider clean green Aotearoa story) we need to look to innovation and the innovator to help solve these challenges.

Ultimately our agritech innovators help their customers to grow food and fibre more sustainably –  including across productivity, the environment and socially.

The impact of COVID-19 is still being felt far and wide around the world, with supply chains disrupted and labour markets tighter than ever before. Agritech offers new tools, services and solutions to help our primary industries overcome these challenges, and adopt new solutions that make us stronger in the long term too. 

The awards have always done a great job recognising primary industry businesses. This year is the first we’ve seen multiple businesses with agritech applications recognised as finalists – and that’s important. So let's celebrate these tech businesses tonight!



Water is a finite resource, a taonga to be preserved and protected. So how can we help primary industries to be smarter about their water use?

Hydroxsys has developed smart water filtration technology to help businesses in the primary industries become more sustainable and more circular through recycling water and chemicals from wastewater streams. 

Their novel water filtration technology uses polyethylene membranes to filter nasties out of wastewater, leaving clean water behind as a byproduct. And while the applications of this tech go wider than agritech, the Hydroxsys technology can be fitted out at industrial plants across the primary industries – wine, dairy, meat works, and more.

Hydroxsys’s membrane technology is strong enough to process chemical rich waste streams, leaving behind clean water as a byproduct. The water can then be reused over and over again – reducing excess water use in industrial processes.

When wastewater is flushed through Hydroxsys’s membrane technology, it captures the chemicals and other solids too. This means that the chemicals used in activities like a plant washdown process can be captured and reused up to eight more times – reducing chemical waste through recycling. 

It’s the stuff sustainability dreams are made of. The Hydroxsys tech aims to help New Zealand’s primary industries to become cleaner, greener and more sustainable. 

Tech like this is good on all fronts – good for the environment, good for a business’s bottom line, and good for consumers who are increasingly guided by sustainability when choosing where to purchase.

The Hydroxsys team have made it as finalists in the Guardianship and Conservation Award (Kaitiakitanga Award) category.



MilktechNZ has revolutionised milking technology by creating an automatic cup remover to reduce labour costs during a tight labour market. Founded in 2018 with the support of a Callaghan Innovation grant, MilktechNZ CEO and founder Gustavo Garza managed to fully commercialise the product within a year. 

MilktechNZ’s technology is based on the ethos of being clever and simple. At milking stations, the cups that capture cow milk need to be manually removed by a farm hand when full. By automating the cup removal process of milking, MilktechNZ reduces labour costs on dairy farms. It’s simple, but powerful. 

As for many innovators, COVID-19 hit hard and the team set up assembly lines in their garages to keep making the product. But in the years following, MilktechNZ has leveraged the opportunities presented by labour shortages. They’re now being used in farms nationwide.

This mindset of creativity and innovation has led to the MilktechNZ products going far and beyond. In March 2020, the MilktechNZ crew teamed up with local manufacturer ES Plastics and Waikato Hospital doctors to repurpose their tech to create emergency ventilators in case hospitals needed them for COVID-19 patients. 

The thing that sets MilktechNZ apart is that it’s 100% Kiwi made – all of the parts are provided by local suppliers like ES Plastics, and fully assembled in New Zealand, aside from things like magnets that we don’t make here yet. 

Gustavo and the MilktechNZ team are committed to research and development (R&D). They’ve spent around $600k in the last year alone on R&D projects to help make milking even more easy and efficient. 

The MilktechNZ team are finalists in the Producer Award category.

The future of our primary industries

Tech from businesses like Hydroxsys and MilktechNZ will help to transform our agricultural sector so it’s poised to tackle the challenges that still lay ahead. 

The awards are an opportunity to reflect on how the primary industries are evolving for the future - and the future of the agricultural sector is agritech. 

So, with all that being said, I’m incredibly proud to see agritech being recognised at the Primary Industries New Zealand Awards tonight. I wish all the finalists the best. 

Secretly though, I’m gunning for our agritech colleagues to hit the mark and take home the top prizes. Good luck!

By Simon Yarrow, Agritech Lead at Callaghan Innovation