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Tauranga agtech firm recognised on the world stage

02 Mar 2020

Tauranga-based agtech firm Robotics Plus has received worldwide recognition on the Top 50 AgTech companies, as ranked on the THRIVE Top 50.

Robotics Plus, formed in 2013 by Steve Saunders and Alistair Scarfe, develops robotics and automation for the agriculture industry. It was the only New Zealand company to make the THRIVE top 50 rankings this year.

As a result, the company will be showcased at the Thrive Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley this month.

Robotics Plus CEO Matt Glen says it’s an honour to be showcased alongside innovative agtech companies from around the world, and it’s a testament to the team’s expertise in artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, and vision.

Chairman and cofounder Steve Saunders adds, “It’s a fantastic validation for our talented team to be featured in the THRIVE Top 50 – they’ve put in an enormous amount of work over the past few years to develop world-first platform technologies that help solve some really important food and fibre challenges in agriculture. We’d also like to recognise our fantastic partners and collaborators in the commercial, research and Government sectors, who have played a vital role in our technology and company development.”

In the last two years Robotics Plus has launched the Āporo apple packer and an automatic log scaler, entered the US and Europe product markets, and raised $10 million in funding with Yamaha Motors.

The Āporo apple packer can identify and place as many as 120 apples per minute in display trays, according to Robotics Plus.  The technology is currently being marketed by a joint venture with partners from New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. It is also used in packhouses in New Zealand, Europe, and the United States.

Last year Robotics Plus developed a technology that automates volume measurements of logs on trucks and trailers. The robotic scaling machines have been rolled out in seven locations across the North Island. According to Robotics Plus, 26% of New Zealand log exports are measured through robotic scaling machines.

“Our vision is to grow into a truly global business that will transform a number of industries. We’re rapidly growing our world-class development team to prototype new ideas, validate new components and integrate these into our robotic systems. Importantly we’re also well supported by local and international partners who are helping us scale quickly to meet market demand,” concludes Glenn.

The THRIVE Top 50 is an annual ranking of global agtech companies that represent the ‘best’ in agriculture innovation.