Wananga landing Wananga landing

Ten big ideas to accelerate change in the food and fibre sector

04 May 2021

Imagine a world where a farmer can tell the difference between every sheep by just looking at them. Thanks to new sheep facial recognition technology employing AI this could soon be a reality. Genesmith is just one of the big ideas named today as a finalist in the Food, Fibre and Agritech Supernode Challenge.



Happy Cow Milk

The Challenge set out to unearth disruptive solutions for the sector that will have economic benefits for communities and the export market. From eco-pesticides that keep bees alive through to agritech platforms that deliver optimised irrigation, the top ten teams from across the country include:

  • 2before® blackcurrant powder – a breakthrough pre-exercise beverage
  • Clarospec – lamb quality
  • Flow batteries – producing flow batteries’ electrode using agricultural byproducts
  • Genesmith – sheep facial recognition for crafted livestock solutions
  • Happy Cow Milk – milk factory in a box
  • Irrigation Futures Platform – effective water use solutions
  • Lateral ® – harnessing nature to control caterpillars in agricultural crops
  • MET System – automating the response to weather
  • Pure heart Aotearoa Hemp Milk – plant nutrition at its best
  • WaiMonitor – New Zealand waterways digital twin.

For the last seven weeks, ThincLab Canterbury Accelerator Lead, Michelle Polglase has worked alongside the 25 ventures who have participated in the accelerator programme with mentors and sector leaders. She says the progress has been “phenomenal” and the task of selecting the top ten was a challenge in itself.

“The quality of innovation right across the Challenge has been outstanding. We’ve been thoroughly impressed with the commitment to the programme and enthusiasm to transforming the food and fibre sector. We’re excited to see the final presentations and we’ll be supporting the ventures to take the next step,” says Polglase.

The finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of experts at the showcase and awards ceremony which will take place at E Tipu 2021: The Boma NZ Agri Summit on 11 May where they will be awarded a share in a prize pool of more than $130,000.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech Challenge is powered by ChristchurchNZ with the support of KiwiNet, AgResearch and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum and delivery partners UC Centre of Entrepreneurship, ThincLab Canterbury and B.Linc Innovation.

Mayor Craig Rowley from the Canterbury Mayoral Forum says the ideas presented by the finalists are ‘absolutely outstanding’.

“These ideas have the potential to create value-add products and new businesses in one of Canterbury’s largest and fast-growing sectors.”

Visit for full details on the top ten ventures and to secure complimentary tickets to the showcase.

The top ten finalists are available for interview. For further information or to request an interview, contact Michelle Polglase, ThincLab Canterbury Accelerator Lead, phone: 027 686 5146

More information
Visit our media enquiries page to contact UC Media.
What to read next
Privacy Preferences

By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.