Fieldays Innovation winners driving growth and sustainability

Prototype, Early-Stage, and Growth & Scale. 

16 June 2023

In addition to commemorating its 55th anniversary, Fieldays is also proudly celebrating 55 years of highlighting and supporting innovation in the primary sector.  

The Fieldays Innovation Award winners, announced at a gala last night, exemplify the full innovation lifecycle, encompassing three award categories: Prototype, Early-Stage, and Growth & Scale.  

The judging process involved the expertise of numerous judges, who lent their insight and knowledge to identify the most remarkable innovations. The awards also paid tribute to the younger generation of innovators, culminating in the presentation of the prestigious Fieldays Young Innovator of the Year Award. 

 Peter Nation CEO of New Zealand National Fieldays Society, once again acknowledged the standard of entrants and their willingness to give it a go. “Fieldays is the home of innovation and it started here in 1968 with Shoof owner Geoff Laurent taking money tagged by wife Bev for a family couch purchase and entered the awards instead. Highlighting the Kiwi number 8 wire mentality of having a crack and backing yourself. That braveness and can-do attitude is again evident in this year’s entrants,” said Nation.  

This year’s keynote speaker at the Awards gala knows exactly what it's like to be part of the Fieldays Innovation journey and award process with their company launching their prototype bike in 2016 and winning the International Innovation Award in 2018. 

Former Board Chair and CEO of UBCO Bikes Katherine Sandford spoke about the UBCO concept and the journey the team are on. The transitions that have made in the past 10 years have been significant and swift and not without challenges. Sandford encouraged the audience to “Stick with it. It takes time, it takes investment, and it takes a lot of patience. For those out there just beginning their journey where you get to in the end is pretty special”.  

The 2023 Young Innovator of the Year Award winner was St Paul’s Collegiate School with their Capra Skin Goats Milk lip balm. The student group who placed in the top three of the school’s version of the Shark Tank, The St Paul’s 2023 Crocodile Pit. Where students are put to the test to create a new agri-business product and service and learn the process of pitching innovation and business strategy.  

The Judges commented how the group had identified a need, formulating steps and iteration to come up with a final product to make a real difference to its target market of youth combining primary products and the benefits that come with these.  

The 2023 Prototype Award winner was local dairy pioneers Waikato Milking Systems for their ErgoPOD. Aimed at both the local and international market, the ErgoPOD provides a step change in milking and revolutionises the way cups are presented and managed in the milking shed.  It exemplifies what can be achieved when solid design is combined with innovative idea generation, deliberate simplification and effective root cause analysis.  With just the right amount of automation, the ErgoPOD reduces injury risks, halves the time to apply milking cups, removes multiple hazards for a cow entering and leaving the milking platform, creates opportunities for precise measurement and control of milk quality, and even speeds up the process of cows exiting a rotary milking platform.    

Early-Stage Award winner for 2023 was won by eClean Envirotech. Exhibiting within the new Fieldays Sustainability Hub this year, this team has blended strong contemporary science and Mātauranga Māori in an authentic way.  With Kawa and Tikanga of traditional Māori science.   

Their application of scientific theory with a practical application impressed the Judges.   They have partnered well with an engineering firm and have the ability to manufacture from the beginning and have already achieved early commercial success. The IP strategy and go to market is clearly articulated for NZ and export.  

The final award of the evening, the 2023 Growth & Scale Award went to first time entrants Wilderlab.  

Again, exhibiting in the Sustainability Hub showcasing the collaboration and innovation around sustainability practises and principles is a key driver in the primary industries.  

Wilderlab embody a unique New Zealand approach to protecting and mapping our environment through their environmental DNA monitoring solution. The judges were impressed with the novel technology, multiple avenues for growth and strong commitment to values that epitomise the best of New Zealand. Make us proud! whose hardware and software solutions work together with the end goal of creating swimmable oceans, rivers and streams by providing a network of real-time water quality information.  

Steve Chappell, Fieldays Programme Manager, says that the calibre of this year’s entrants was incredibly high and even more outstanding considering despite the quick turnaround.  

“This demonstrates how the innovation eco-system is thriving, it’s fantastic.  The judges had a difficult time selecting the winners and we echo their sentiment and wish the entrants luck for the future”.  

Honourable mentions by the Judges were given to St. Paul’s Collegiates Post Wizard team – an effective solution to a back-breaking problem, SPS Automation for the impressive way that they are implementing AI tools to enable massive improvements in the control of invasive plant species in Aotearoa and Levno for their Levno for Milk innovation. The judges said their clarity of purpose and progress in international markets deserved a special mention. 

The Fieldays Innovation Awards provide a global platform for the finalists offering the opportunity for Diplomats, Ministers, Chief Executives and Industry leaders along with potential investors visiting their sites across the four days of Fieldays. The future looks bright for the primary industry innovators and inventors alike, set to build on the strong history of the awards and making their mark internationally.   

Fieldays Innovation Awards are supported by sponsors, One NZ, Ministry of Primary Industries Amazon Web Services, Gait International, King St. Advertising, NZME, Sprout Agritech, Blender Design, and Soda Inc., who all contribute to a prize package valued at over $60,000. Full details of the prizes for each category can be viewed on the Fieldays website. 

Fieldays is proud to be the home of innovation and appreciates the time and effort put into the innovations presented to judges for the Fieldays Innovation Awards. The calibre of entrants was exceptionally high this year and Fieldays acknowledges the hard work of both the judges and the participants in this year’s competitions.  

Fieldays Innovation Awards entries for 2024 are open, and Fieldays looks forward to seeing what ideas will be on show and how these will continue to change and advance this sector. You can apply for the Fieldays 2024 Innovation Awards here

The Fieldays 2023 Innovation Award event was livestreamed and is available for viewing on both the Fieldays Facebook page an Youtube channel.

Awards will be displayed at exhibitors sites for the remainder of the event and a full list of these can found below or also by using the Fieldays App. 

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