Challenge to accelerate innovation in the food, fibre and agritech sector

The need for transformative innovation in the food, fibre and agritech sector is at the core of the latest Supernode Challenge which is now open to applications.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech Supernode Challenge, presented by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet, AgResearch and the Canterbury Mayoral Fund, aims to accelerate ideas for disruptive solutions to some of New Zealand’s most pressing challenges.

With a total prize pool of $130,000, the Challenge is looking for transformative ideas with the potential for commercial global success while delivering positive environmental outcomes. It will provide both financial resources, in-kind, and expert support for teams with an ambitious vision about the future of food, fibre and agritech in Canterbury.

KiwiNet CEO, Dr James Hutchinson, says Canterbury has a long history of creating world-class food and fibre products and the Challenge is an amazing opportunity to accelerate innovation in Canterbury and to ensure these ideas are commercially viable.

“With a growing global population, a changing climate and shifting consumer preferences Canterbury’s game-changing technologies can lead the world in becoming more productive, sustainable and competitive,” said Dr Hutchinson.

“The Food, Fibre and Agritech Challenge is a significant contribution to this acceleration as it brings together key players across the region to help scale and grow important research discoveries.”

ChristchurchNZ CEO, Joanna Norris says the region is continually looking for opportunities to attract and grow talent, business and innovation but the sector must transform more traditional supply chains into value-added, differentiated value chains to deliver real impact.

“Food, fibre and agritech is a really critical part of the Canterbury economy – 20 per cent of GDP for Greater Christchurch annually is produced by the food, fibre and agritech sectors. A Challenge like this helps feed the expertise and wealth of knowledge that we already have within Canterbury by drawing out other businesses who can leverage the technologies and opportunities,” she said.  

The Challenge will be delivered by the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and BLinc Innovation, based at Lincoln University, which will provide applicants with unrivalled access to scientific and industry talent.

Entries are encouraged from the private and tertiary sectors as well as Crown Research Institutes. The Enterprise Stream seeks entries from individuals, founders, start-ups, students, SMEs and large businesses while the Research Stream is an opportunity for scientists and researchers to translate their science into reality with partnerships and knowledge from the commercial world.

The submission deadline is 29 January 2021 with finalists announced on 19 February 2021. From there finalists will embark on an intensive, eight-week accelerator programme to support teams through a market validation process that will rigorously test their idea.

The top finalists emerging from the accelerator programme will present to a panel of experts at the final Pitch Day and awards ceremony which will take place on 11 May.

Applications forms and full details can be found at

Source:  University of Canterbury

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog

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