Western Growers and a New Zealand ag tech consortium have agreed to a sharing of ideas through Western Growers' Center for Innovation & Technology in Salinas, Calif. ( File photo )

Western Growers has a new partnership with Agritech New Zealand, giving New Zealand specialty crop growers access to technology in the U.S. and opportunities for research in New Zealand in the U.S. off season.

 A Memordandum of Understanding signed by Western Growers and Agritech New Zealand provides agtech companies there market research and “opens doors for New Zealand ag tech companies to enter the U.S. market via the Western Growers’ Center for Innovation & Technology in Salinas, Calif., according to a news release. U.S. ag tech startups can also access New Zealand’s market and opportunities.

Agritech New Zealand members will have access to the center’s services, which include training, mentorship, seminars and events with Western Growers members in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico.

“We are currently facing a myriad of issues that are severely impacting agriculture and the production of food globally,” Hank Giclas, Western Growers’ senior vice president, strategic planning, science & technology, said in the release. “Building a two-way bridge for agricultural technology will result in international collaboration where we can create, transfer and share knowledge and experiences about new technologies that can help solve the industry’s most pressing issues.”

The center will work with Agritech New Zealand to evaluate opportunities to conduct research and development trials with New Zealand grower during the Northern Hemisphere’s off season, according to the release.

“Connecting our agriculture innovation ecosystems will benefit innovators, growers, investors, regulators, researchers and public stakeholders not only in our two countries, but around the globe,” Peter Wren-Hilton, executive director of Agritech New Zealand, said in the release.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Agritech New Zealand had discussed the partnership with Western Growers two years ago. The agreement was signed during a trade mission of about 30 New Zealand agritech companies to California.

New Zealand companies Biolumic, of Palmerston North, and TracMap, Dunedin, have space at the Western Growers center, according to the Herald, and three more are scheduled to use the center’s services. Biolumic has developed ultra-violet technology to spur seedling growth in greenhouses, and this spring received $5 million in investor funding. Robotics Plus, a future tenant at the Western Growers center, has received funding from Yamaha Ventures, Salinas, according to the Herald.