From connected sensors that monitor the health of wine grapes, to a clever cotton recycling initiative, we explore some of the best innovations from New Zealand
New Zealand innovation facts
Global Innovation Index ranking: 26th
Climate targets: Cut net greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (other than biogenic methane) by 2050.
Biodiversity loss – New Zealand is known for its unique animal and plant species. But native ecosystems have been in rapid decline since humans first arrived in the country. Today, New Zealand risks losing 80 per cent of its reptiles, frogs, bats, and birds. In all, 4,000 species are threatened or at risk of becoming extinct. Land use and invasive species are the primary causes of the decline.
Agricultural emissions – Agriculture accounts for more than half of greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand – a very unusual situation for a developed country. The biggest source of agricultural emissions is methane from the digestive systems of livestock. Nitrous oxide (a less well-known greenhouse gas) is the seconded biggest agricultural emissions source – formed when extra nitrogen is added to the soil.
Soil erosion – Soil is being lost at a rate of 200 million tonnes per year in New Zealand – to the detriment of both humans and the environment. Soil erosion is a natural process, but it has been accelerated by human activities. In New Zealand, development, deforestation, and agriculture are major catalysts, with 44 per cent of annual soil loss coming from agricultural pastures.
Health care equipment and services
Food and beverage
Consumer durables and apparel
Source: Angel Association New Zealand/PwC/NZ Growth Capital Partners
Three exciting new innovations from New Zealand
The global wine industry is forecast to reach $457 billion (around €402 billion) by 2028. But wine production is a thirsty process. According to Water Footprint Network—a non-profit collaboration that aims to tackle the global water crisis—it takes 109 litres of water to produce one 125 millilitre glass of wine. To help to tackle the issue, New Zealand agritech startup Croptide has developed technology to provide fruit and wine grape growers with water and nutrient readings through sensors directly connected to a plant’s stem tissues. This data is made available at the grower’s fingertips through their smartphone. Read more
According to Christchurch-based Medsalv, the amount of money wasted in New Zealand as a result of discarded medical devices amounts to more than NZD$100 million (€59 million) per year. To tackle this, the startup remanufactures single-use medical devices so they can be reused safely. The used medical devices are subjected to a number of processes that make them clinically safe and suitable for reuse. The products are then sold back to hospitals for a lower-than-new price. Read more
Many individual businesses cannot afford to run their own recycling plant. To tackle this, a group of like-minded organisations in New Zealand are creating a regional cotton recycling initiative. Called the Circular Cotton Collective, the group is exploring ways to pool resources in order to provide local recycling technologies. Rather than shipping discarded cotton items abroad, and thereby losing a significant volume of material, members of the collective could close the loop in their own production processes and begin using recycled fibres in their clothing. Read more
Words: Matthew Hempstead
4th February 2022