Mat Hocken manages a fourth-generation family farm in Manawatū and is chair of the Rural Innovation Lab.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has appointed three new faces to the Government’s independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP) for Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures).
Alistair Scarfe of Tauranga, Andy Elliot, Nelson, and Mat Hocken, Manawatū, will join existing IAP members Lucy Griffiths (chair), Zoe Attwood and Anne-Marie Broughton.
Barry Brook, Harry Burkhardt and Steve Smith (outgoing chair) retired from the panel at the end of 2021, having served for six years.
The IAP performs a key role in SFF Futures by providing independent expert advice on both funding proposals and active programmes.
SFF Futures has $40 million available each year from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to support problem-solving and innovation that will make a positive and lasting difference in New Zealand’s food and fibre industries.
It offers a single gateway to apply for investment and provides grants of less than $100,000, up to multi-million-dollar, multi-year partnerships.
MPI director of investment programmes Steve Penno said the new members bring additional expertise in science, innovation, technology development and commercialisation to the panel.
“It’s important MPI has access to independent advice from experts with a range of disciplines, experience and backgrounds to provide that extra reassurance that the projects we fund are robust and able to add enduring benefits to NZ,” Penno said.
“With their range of experience and expertise our new members are helping to ask the right questions and provide essential guidance.”
From dairy farming roots in the Wairarapa, Alistair Scarfe is director and chief technology officer of Robotics Plus. He has created and commercialised several world-first and globally awarded agritech systems, bringing together technology with a variety of business models to achieve commercial adoption. He is also an Industry Advisory Board member of the University of Waikato School of Engineering.
Andy Elliot has a history of commercialisation and business development within the aquaculture industry. He has recently been involved in the development of AuOra, a newly formed health and wellness business of Wakatū Incorporation. He was also a 2018 Nuffield NZ scholar and holds various board appointments including strategic adviser for Tasman Bay Berries.
Mat Hocken manages a fourth-generation family farm in Manawatū. He is chair of the Rural Innovation Lab, a farmer-led platform that facilitates the creation and delivery of adaptable solutions to farmers’ most common, urgent, or biggest challenges. He is also chair and director of general partner companies for MyFarm investments in kiwifruit, apples, vineyards and agri-related commercial property.
A 2017 Nuffield NZ scholar with a focus on innovation in agriculture, Hocken also worked on EU policy in Brussels for five years, including competition, climate change, innovation and trade issues and worked for more than four years in Sydney in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s trade finance agency.