Agritech Activator

Horticulture Technology Catalyst


The Horticulture Technology Catalyst (the Catalyst) aims to develop New Zealand’s horticulture technology sector.

The Horticulture Technology Catalyst (the Catalyst) aims to develop New Zealand’s horticulture technology sector to a high-growth, innovative industry cluster by increasing the sector’s international connections, growing industry talent, and increasing collaboration and relationships across the horticulture sector.

The Catalyst seeks to address the issues that horticulture technology firms face in scaling up to be globally relevant. In particular, firms in our horticulture technology sector have a relatively small (compared to international markets) and fragmented horticulture industry to support. There are therefore few opportunities for horticulture technology firms to achieve domestic scale (agglomerated sectors like kiwifruit being an exception). The Catalyst seeks to overcome this issue through building domestic alignment and access to international connections and partnerships, access to skilled labour, and the overall critical mass for New Zealand’s horticulture technology sector become a successful and self-sustaining sector

To date, we have developed an indicative business case for the Catalyst, which has been endorsed by Cabinet. A detailed business case is being developed and is in particular considering how to best implement the Catalyst, such as through an independent entity or as a contracting platform. We aim to seek ongoing funding for the Catalyst through upcoming Budget cycles.

Why focus on horticulture technology?

Horticulture is a significant and growing part of New Zealand’s economy, having over doubled its export revenues since 2010. This growth is expected to continue and reflects global horticulture growth. The domestic and global market demand for horticulture technological innovations is therefore strong and increasing. Western Growers, a significant American horticulture player, aims to automate 50 percent of their horticulture harvesting by 2030.

This demand presents the opportunity to develop these technologies in New Zealand to simultaneously increase the size of our horticulture technology sector and benefit our domestic horticulture industry through close proximity to this technology sector.

While the Catalyst is currently proposed to focus on the horticulture technology sector, its focus could extend to either more subsectors of agritech or the entire sector. Focusing its efforts to horticulture technology initially will enable it to build the connections and momentum that are required for its success, before considering whether to extend its scope for a broader impact.