Speaking as Labour leader, Chris Hipkins today announced a re-elected Labour government would invest $100 million into the Venture Capital Fund to support growing the agritech sector to $8 billion by 2030.
He was delivering an election campaign address to a business audience at a function organised by Bloomberg.
He declared his vision was
“…for a smart, modern and green economy that trades on our brand and natural offering as well as our leadership on climate.
“One that turns our distance from markets into an advantage by doubling down on technology and the weightless economy and value add tourism.
“My vision is for New Zealand to be the best and most successful little country in the world, and I believe we can be.”
Mr Hipkins said New Zealand is renowned for its innovation, for being smart farmers and great traders.
“And we are so far ahead of most of the rest of the world when it comes to renewable energy that we’ve been singled out as a great place to invest in to make money.”
There was a huge economic opportunity in the country’s response to climate change, Mr Hipkins said.
“Every trade delegation and mission I’ve led in the eight months I’ve been in the job has had a climate focus,” he said.
“People who buy our products increasingly do so because of our clean green credentials. But we run the risk of being left behind.”
Failure to act on climate change would be not only a moral failure, but would amount to “economic sabotage in the new global economy”.
That’s why New Zealand must make the transition to a net zero emissions economy as soon as possible, shoring up its clean, green and safe brand.
“This is a brand we must protect, and that means taking the hard actions at home to really reduce our emissions,” Mr Hipkins said.
He set out his five economic priorities:
- To be the best little trading country in the world;
- To become globally recognised as being world leaders in sustainable agriculture and agricultural technology;
- To be a powerhouse of renewable energy, building on the confidence international investors have put in us to innovate our way to 100% renewable – and to lead the world, selling our expertise and technology to others;
- To drive our emerging sectors like the creative and digital sectors to grow export value across science, space, gaming and information technology; and,
- To build out the premium health and wellbeing tourism and education experience we offer to international travellers and students
The second goal entailed turning New Zealand into a Centre of Excellence for sustainable agriculture and agricultural technology. This was focused on leveraging existing strengths .
“I want our primary sector to stay at the head of the pack in a rapidly changing world,” Mr Hipkins said.
“Global consumers are demanding greater environmental standards from how we farm and grow the goods we sell to them.
“That means actions on climate change are no longer a nice to have but an essential part of our plan to be an agricultural leader.”
Investment in new technologies would be key to helping achieve that.
“Our ambition is to grow the agritech sector to $8 billion by 2030,” Mr Hipkins said.
“If re-elected Labour will inject $100 million into the Venture Capital Fund to support this objective.
“This fund will invest in agritech businesses, including through their joint investment fund with Finistere Ventures developed through the Agritech ITP.”
Every agriculture sector in the world was in a race to prove their environmental credentials, Mr Hipkins said.
“We have a head start, but we need to take the next steps now in order not to squander our advantage.
“To do that we will accelerate the research, development, and commercialisation of tools and technology to help reduce agricultural emissions through the Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions.”
These technology investments would be for on-farm productivity and profitability on top of the benefits they would provide the sector and economy as a whole.