Agritech Success StoriesBack to Agritech Success Stories
HazEL: Better choices – less harm
Developed by Hazard Evaluation Ltd, HazEL is software developed in New Zealand that helps regulators and farmers make better decisions using the latest research when it comes to chemicals used in their operations. Having just finished the Callaghan Innovation and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise programme ‘Scale for Global Growth’ they are ready to take on the world!
The New Zealand regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is always updating its advice on the chemicals used in industrial manufacturing and processing - including in agriculture contexts.
The regulator uses research to re-assess chemicals, and updates its advice on ‘chemicals of concern’ a couple times a year. By nature of the regulatory process, there is often a lag between the most up-to-date research and official advice released by the EPA.
The HazEL software helps to bridge this information gap for both regulators and farmers by ranking chemicals based on their environmental and human health effects, as well as alerting users to emerging concerns.
“Farmers and growers want to do their best by the land. Our tool allows them to ‘err on the side of caution’, demonstrate transparency in their chemical use, and easily find a similarly priced alternative to a potentially dangerous chemical,” HazEL founder and CEO, Kate Bromfield, says.
An example of how the HazEL software is able to compare and contrast chemicals based on a number of key attributes.
HazEL works by drawing on a large database of chemical research sourced from American, European, Australian and New Zealand regulators, amongst others. For larger companies, the cross-jurisdiction data flow is particularly useful.
“I think of us as operating a warehouse of data. But that’s not all we do – we have also built algorithms to help bridge gaps in data, and also recommend data based on what any given user is interested in. For example, a winegrower will be shown information relevant to grape growth.”
Kate first had the HazEL idea while working in Australia in 2018.
“After that, I was introduced to my co-founder, Richard Cooper. Richard is the tech behind the tool – he immediately saw the value in the tool as a software-as-a-service product.”
The pair then applied for a Callaghan Innovation R&D grant, which Kate describes as their “first real kick-off”.
HazEL was officially incorporated in 2020, and is now working to gain traction with farms and agribusiness around the motu. Some of Kate’s larger clients include New Zealand Apples & Pears in the Hawke’s Bay.
Before starting Hazard Evaluation, Kate also worked with the New Zealand EPA, leading a team of specialists in toxicology and ecotoxicology. She is actively involved in international discussions on chemical risk assessment.
HazEL’s Next Moves
“This is one of the best professional and personal development programmes that we’ve ever been involved in.”
– Kate Bromfield
Kate and her special project manager Steph were one of nine companies that participated in this year’s Scale for Global Growth Programme.
“It was really nicely targeted, exactly what we needed. As part of the programme we had [marketing expert] Stuart Braxton lead a Vision, Values and Purpose session challenging us to clearly articulate what our value proposition is. And then, help us figure out how to communicate this with our staff.”
“Our board chair agrees, it’s some of the best values work they’d seen too - it’s aspirational, while still being achievable.”
The HazEL team’s next step is to sharpen up plans for international expansion.
“We’re looking to focus next on the Australian wine and pipfruit sectors – as that’s where we have so far held the expertise in New Zealand.
“We also have opportunities in Germany. We’re at a stage where we’re ready to expand, but we’re small enough to be agile – which is a very exciting place to be.”
Eventually, Kate and her team have set their sights on becoming the industry standard in chemical risk management.
“Scale for Global Growth was incredibly helpful for establishing aspirational and achievable business values for approval by our Board. We want to keep innovating, keep forging strategic partnerships, and continue to make sure dangerous chemicals don’t have unintended impacts on land.”
For more information about HazEL, check out their website.