A major new initiative has been launched in Manawatū to build the region as a major international agrifood hub, and boost the local economy.
The Manawatū Agritech Strategy was launched by the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) on Tuesday.
The strategy was developed in partnership with the global agritech accelerator Sprout and regional stakeholders including iwi, education and training providers, business owners and entrepreneurs.
It aims for a coordinated approach to growing the sector for the benefit of New Zealand's food industry.
CEDA's Chief Executive Linda Stewart said it was the first regional strategy of its kind, focused on agritech, in New Zealand.
"As an economic development agency it is our role to identify our comparative and competitive advantages as a region, to build on our strengths, with laser focus, to set the direction, secure buy-in from stakeholders, and then facilitate, connect and drive it to make it actually happen," she said.
"This means partnerships are critical for CEDA and underpin everything we do, including our success."
She said the strategy was underpinned by four pillars that would drive the region towards achieving its goal of being recognised as one of the top three agrifood hubs in the world.
"Within a framework of these four pillars, a one to three-year overview has been developed, identifying the activities and initiatives that are already underway and what else is needed, to help accelerate the sector's growth."
Initiatives already underway included the Rural Innovation Lab, FoodHQ's PGF application and New Zealand AgriFood Week.
New initiatives included an agritech section at the Sort It Careers Expo and an agritech PR fund established between CEDA and industry.
The launch of the strategy follows the recent announcement that New Zealand's FoodHQ, headquartered in Manawatū, has entered into an international partnership with the Netherland's Foodvalley.
FoodHQ is a national collaboration that involves the majority of New Zealand's publicly funded food science and innovation capability.