Nick Pyke has taken over as Chair of the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust, better known as AGMARDT.
For more than 32 years, AGMARDT has been investing in initiatives to encourage innovative thinking, research capability and collaboration and to develop emerging leaders in New Zealand’s primary sector.
Mr Pyke, who has been a member of the board of trustees for two years, has succeeded Richard Green, who will step down from the board this year after six years as a trustee, the last two as Chair.
Nick Pyke is a founder and director of Ag Innovate Ltd and Leftfield Innovation Ltd and has extensive governance experience with agricultural businesses, farms and industry good organisations.
His previous roles have included CEO of the Foundation of Arable Research (FAR) for over 20 years, from its inception.
Before that he had a scientific career with MAF, DSIR, HortResearch and Agriculture Canada, working mostly on horticultural crops. He has held positions on several national advisory groups and received a number of awards recognising his contribution to agriculture.
Mr Pyke said:
“Our board is strongly focused on aligning with the AGMARDT strategy and on continuing to build the fund so that we can invest more in grants back into improving the food and fibre sector through innovation and developing leadership.”
Mr Green said AGMARDT has regularly ‘refreshed its bench’ through bringing in new trustees to ensure diversity of thought and fresh ideas.
The recent appointment of a new general manager, Lee-Ann Marsh, was a logical time for him to decide to step down as chair, he said.
AGMARDT was established by the Government in 1987 with funds of $32 million. Since then, it has provided more than $90m of funding through more than 1700 grants.
It is an independent, not-for-profit organisation with trustees from varying backgrounds and skills.
According to the 2019/20 annual report, grant funding approvals for that financial year totalled $3.6 million, up from $3.1 million in the previous year.
Agribusiness Innovation grants (AIG), 55% of grant expenditure, remained the leading grant type.
AIGs had been expected to increase significantly in 2020/21 after AGMARDT decided not to fund Postdoctoral Scholarships in favour of more commercially focused scientific research, plus changes to strategic priorities.
The development of people through Capability grants also featured highly in 2019/20, accounting for 28% of grant expenditure. These were to remain a high priority for the AGMARDT Trustees.
AGMARDT Accelerator loans were designed to support New Zealand agribusinesses that may require short term capital to further enhance projects that are close to commercialisation, are not eligible for grant funding, and are unable to attract commercial or bank funding to progress. There were no loans provided in 2019/20, but they remain a tool to accelerate change.