The Fieldays Lab
The Lab sits at the heart of Fieldays, the biggest agri-tech exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere. We’re there to mentor the latest and greatest innovators coming out of our country.
THE HEART OF KIWI INNOVATION
Each year, Fieldays holds the Innovation Awards. The aim is to showcase New Zealand inventions, introduce them to the marketplace, and facilitate networks for commercial success.
Approved entrants get the opportunity to display in the Innovation Centre – an area that receives extensive media coverage as the world looks to New Zealand to lead innovation for the agricultural sector. It is the ideal place to demonstrate ground-breaking developments, whether they are put together in the garage or by more professional innovators.
STEPPING UP OUR GAME
After judging the innovation awards in 2013, we got chatting with Fieldays on how we could get more involved and offer our expertise. the next year, we set up a purpose-built structure called The Lab. It served as a hub for mentoring and debriefing entrants, separate from the general buzz of the Innovations Centre. To make sure the team stood out from the crowd, we outfitted everyone in lab coats, complete with thick-rimmed glasses and ball point pens.
The entrants could get tips in preparation for their Dragon’s Den pitch, or get advice on different aspects of their project, including design and market entry. We also opened our doors for visitors and other exhibitors to share and work on their ideas. We hosted workshops with interested businesses, such as customer empathy sessions with LIC. Some of the one-on-one sessions with Innovation Awards finalists led to development projects at the studio, such as Kelvin the Thermokennel.
As part of our ongoing interest in the primary sector, we collected insights through enquiry forms about problems on the farm, sparking conversations about innovation with the general public. To accompany this, we created a resource titled, How Innovation Works. This is available below for anyone interested in how customer research can fuel innovation by generating insights.
AN ONGOING RELATIONSHIP
After a successful first year we were asked to develop the Innovations Accelerator, a platform for previous award winners to show their progress and transition towards a fully-fledged tradeshow stand.
We also continue to judge the awards and sponsor our Locus Research Innovation Award. Our award provides four days with our team to tackle the things that will make a difference to the winner’s product. This could cover creating a brochure, brand, or IP, tackling a technical or commercial problem, or any aspect of the development process our integrated team can help with.
Over the years, the Lab has become a true innovation hub, with a full scale stand in the middle of the Innovation Centre, and companies from all around the country joining us on the advice panel. Our new partnerships add another layer of expertise to business development, intellectual property, funding, and offer the team a great way to establish collaborations and relationships beyond the Fieldays event.
“Having the LAB in the middle with all of those experts available to us for the entire week was unbelievably helpful and we came away armed with so much more knowledge and more of a plan on where to go from now on.”
–– Bruce Coombes, The Kage, Innovation Centre Participant