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Do you have an innovation that will help transform the primary sector?

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Applications have now closed for 2019.


The Rural Innovation Lab is is searching for three innovative, new projects that could solve the wicked challenges facing farmers & growers in the Manawatu/Whanganui region.

Successful projects will get:

  • Access to a $15,000 fund for project costs

  • Expert support from The Factory for project set-up & oversight

  • Access to the RIL collaborative partners, including Massey University, Microsoft, The Factory & eCentre

  • Use of Microsoft’s latest technology

  • Mentoring by leading farmers in the Manawatu/Whanganui region


The RIL is particularly looking for projects that address the following key challenges faced by farmers & growers:

+ Getting closer to consumers

With consumer demands changing and consumers having a growing interest in where their food comes from, farmers are increasingly conscious of how they can better understand what consumers want and respond to these needs. Farmers are looking for ways they can build a closer connection with consumers, including selling direct to and giving consumers a look into the supply chain.

Farmers and growers are asking:

  • How do we verify and show best practice in a meaningful way for discerning customers and communities?
  • How do we collectively understand what consumers want and efficiently respond to changing demands?
  • How do we create alternative sales channels that we have control of which don’t affect our current channels?
  • How can we give consumers visibility and transparency into the value chain?
  • How could technology help to create guarantees re product safety/food security?

+ Creating new business models

Traditional ways of farming have seen businesses sold to the next generation, requiring them to stump up with a significant amount of equity. New models are required that allow for different types of investment, from a range of potential business partners, and diversification beyond one dominant land use type. Farmers recognise that farm teams are often disconnected from the business of farming, and are looking at ways they can involve the whole farm team in the business and create meaningful, purposeful roles.

Farmers and growers are asking:

  • How do we create new business models for inter-generational transition?
  • How do we leverage our land assets through multiple revenue streams to build resilience into farming?
  • What are alternative investment/co-investment options for farming?
  • How do we engage whole farm teams in the business of farming, for joint wealth and growth?
  • How do we create a ‘why’ for the whole farm team?

+ Understanding and enhancing environmental footprint

Farmers and growers are seeking to better understand their environmental footprint on a farm-by-farm basis, in the face of growing pressure to reduce their impact on the environment. With the focus on carbon, farmers want to know how to measure the carbon footprint of their farm. They are looking for opportunities to be more efficient with using resources, particularly opportunities for water resource and storage. Farmers want to know how they can work with the wider community for joint wealth creation.

Farmers and growers are asking:

  • How can we understand our carbon footprint on a farm-by-farm basis?
  • How do we create a system to incentivise joint rural and urban wealth creation in an environmentally, culturally and socially sustainable manner?
  • How can we utilise technology and knowledge to be more efficient with water use, both for reuse and storage?

+ Data for better decision making

There are an increasing number of companies collecting data about farming systems. This data is held in a range of different places; it is not integrated between platforms. Farmers are time poor and can struggle to fully understand and weigh up options in order to make clear management decisions when they don’t have access to quality information. Access to better data would allow farmers to improve their business decisions.

Farmers and growers are asking:

  • How do we collaboratively share data in a manner, which enables faster more flexible innovation?
  • How do we create a better trusted information flow to farmers?
  • What should we be automating and tracking?

+ Driving value from regulation and compliance

In the face of increasing regulation and compliance, farmers are getting bogged down in compliance and paperwork, which they feel is delivering little value to their businesses. They want to understand how the compliance burden can be shifted to add value to their businesses, through delivering greater returns or an improved market position.

Farmers and growers are asking:

  • How do we create value from animal identification systems, beyond biosecurity?
  • How do we turn compliance into value creation?

Read our full terms and conditions here.