The Fieldays Innovation Awards is not only a platform for agribusinesses to discover potentially useful new innovations for the primary industry, but also a chance for entrants, from entrepreneurs to established companies, to test their ideas, carry out market research, expand their networks and learn from industry professionals.
Returning to judge the awards in 2020 is Andrew Cooke of Rezare Systems, providers of digital solutions and product development expertise for the agricultural sector.
Cooke says the awards are invaluable for agribusiness, while the flipside for entrants is the opportunity not just to sell their innovation but to actually understand and test the product market, get feedback from customers and judges, assess the level of interest and apply this learning to their innovation.
Judges are not only looking for new ideas but also business nous and industrial impact, according to Cooke. “It’s great to have an innovation that’s interesting and new, but it’s important to know who your target audience is, how you’re planning to reach them, how is this product is going to get to market and what impact it will have on the industry and users. As judges we’re looking for people to be able to communicate this clearly, this is key.”
“The beauty of Fieldays is that there is a hugely dynamic audience, the innovations centre bridges all these audiences. It sends a clear message that there is a future for agriculture and it’s not just the way things used to be.”
Fieldays 2019 Innovations Awards multi-award winner Genevieve Griffin-George of PICMI, says the experience gave the green light on her concept while opening up a myriad of invaluable opportunities.
“I couldn’t recommend the experience enough. This is the place to launch your idea as everybody who’s anybody is there looking for the next best thing. The support that I gained from Fieldays and their team didn’t end at the awards, I have been connected into a multitude of networks, not just at a local level but internationally.”
It was through the awards that Griffin-George met John Davies from AgriFutures Australia and was invited to evokeAG, Asia Pacific’s largest agrifood tech event. She was a 2020 finalist in the Future Young Leaders Program as part of evokeAG and will be a guest speaker at the 2021 event.
James Muir of Riverwatch, winners of the 2019 Amazon Web Services Innovation in Data Award, says the experience highlighted the huge appetite for innovation in the agricultural industry.
“We were surprised at the amount of interest that we got from the farming sector when we are an environmental enterprise. We had hundreds of people through every day, including the prime minister. It was one of the best experiences and gave us a lot of encouragement to keep going.”
Muir’s advice for entrants is simple. “Set up your stand well, in a way that is welcoming and well branded. You have to connect to people and they need to identify you easily. Be prepared, know what your message is, people want to hear a strong elevator pitch and sometimes a few minutes is all you have. Have a working prototype to show your product works, that it’s trustworthy. If we didn’t have that we wouldn’t have been received as well as we did.”
For Jerome Wenzlick of Future Post, winners of the 2019 Fieldays Launch NZ Award, the awards put them in front of their target market and gave people the ability to tangibly engage with their product. Wenzlick’s advice for entrants is clear. “Go with an open mind as you don’t know who you’ll meet and know your story. As a farmer myself I understand the pressure we’re under environmentally, this is truly making a difference in that area.”
“Being able to say we won this award gave our brand greater credibility and awareness. Just give it a go – we never thought we would win, but the benefits have been incredible.”
Entries are open for the 2020 Fieldays Innovation Awards and close on Thursday 30th April. Check out the entry criteria and enter your idea online now at https://fieldays.co.nz/whats-on/innovations/