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Success at Fieldays means boost for Kiwi economy

Success at Fieldays means boost for Kiwi economy

With the success of James & Wells’ clients at this year’s and previous Fieldays, there’s no denying that agriculture is still a huge part of New Zealand’s economy.

But it’s not necessarily agriculture as we used to consider it – traditionally farming, machinery and fruit growing – but innovation in agriculture that is allowing wealth to be created from ideas.

In the 27 years James & Wells have been involved with Fieldays, we’ve seen plenty of innovative agricultural ideas, and having our roots in the Waikato since the 1970s, we know a good one when we see it.

This year’s James & Wells IP Service award was won by a group of enterprising young students from St Paul’s Collegiate School, who also walked away with the Young Innovator of the Year award.

The ‘Easy-Use Feed Bin Wires’ is the idea of Kinneir Groube, Scott Spence, Jess Crow and Sarah Collinson-Smith, who are part of the school’s Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Science and Business programme.

The two-year agribusiness programme is designed to expose and inspire tertiary capable students to the wide range of skills required, and opportunities available, in pastoral agriculture and its associated career pathways.

Spokesperson Kinneir Groube says the idea for the system came from Scott Spence’s farm, where they wanted to be able to feed out into feed pad bins before the cows arrived at the milking shed, but limit access to the feed until after milking. The system allows for a barrier wire to be moved from a lowered position along the side of the bins to a central position which allows the cows to reach the feed.

Feedback from Fieldays has given the group ideas for how to develop the product even further, including how it might work with different kinds of feed systems, and potentially automating it as the prototype is manual.

“That was the main purpose of going to Fieldays, to see what people thought of it and what else could be done with it,” says Kinneir, who is from a dairy farm herself.

The James & Wells award win has given the St Paul’s Collegiate group $3000 worth of intellectual property advice, which will help them secure ownership of their IP for the feed bin system and investigate options for leveraging it.

James & Wells Associate, Jason Tuck, who attended Fieldays this year, says it’s not just those winning the James & Wells sponsored awards that there is a connection with.

“It’s great to see a range of clients not only winning other awards this year, but coming back and building on their previous successes – growing and moving forward.”

Client Dan Hall of Danz Zappz walked away with the Vodafone Innovation Technology Award with his fence detector app.

James & Wells Senior Associate Jonathan Lucas says Dan approached the firm for advice on how to patent his idea; a one-of-a-kind smartphone app called ‘Fence Detective’ that detects whether an electric fence is live or not.

The discussion resulted in an IP strategy which included patent filings, trademark protection and commercial considerations to ensure Dan could make the most of his idea. With the big picture in mind, future plans will see James & Wells help to commercialise the app, which is currently available at the Google Play Store.

The lightbulb moment occurred when Dan came across an electric fence on his farm out in Dargaville and, not knowing whether it was on or not, had to call a farmer to find out. Realising that there must be a more hassle-free way, the thought led to the conception of the app.

Since Fieldays, Dan as had more than 1500 visits to his website. He is currently focusing on offshore markets and corporate businesses, with work also underway on an iPhone app, as currently the app only works for Android.

“It’s not just relevant for farmers, but for roadside workers, zoos, drainlayers, basically anyone working with wiring. We’re also developing hardware that extends the range of the app from 5cm to about 5m,” he says.

James & Wells client Ubco featured at this years Fieldays event with their all-electric 2x2 farm and recreation bike. The 2x2 debuted at Fieldays last year, winning the Locus Research Innovation Award. Since then Daryl Neal and Anthony Clyde have worked to develop the idea into a business.

The bike has transformed how tasks are performed around the farm, from supreme, low speed, clutch-free control behind stock to powering and charging electric and electronic gear on the farm. It weighs only 50kg and will range up to 100km on a five hour charge.

Now branded ‘Ubco – The Utility Bike’, it has undergone in-field testing with St John’s Ambulance, as well as on-farm challenges. The first run of 100 2x2s is also underway, and international markets are the next thing in Daryl and Anthony’s sights.

LiquidStrip, also a client of James & Wells, showcased their innovation at Fieldays last year, winning the Gallagher Simply Brilliant Simplicity award for its continuous filtration system designed to efficiently separate liquids and solids initially from dairy waste effluent.

This year they were part of the Launch Innovations category, which is the stepping stone from concept to market. They had the dairying version of the LiquidStrip at Fieldays and founder Greg Morgan says as a result the team took a number of inquiries, including from overseas.

“We’re currently in the process of commercialisation, and are preparing to launch trials of the LiquidStrip into multiple markets,” he says.

Having focused our business on championing innovation, it is events like Fieldays that James & Wells believes is one of the best places to celebrate Kiwi ingenuity at its finest. As sponsors of the event, we’ve also had people involved on the Fieldays board, as committee members and judges.

The key though to unlocking the wealth potential of ideas is through commercialisation, and owning and leveraging that innovation particularly in big, foreign markets. This means not only a great result for the creator, but a stronger, healthier New Zealand, with more jobs and money available, resulting in a higher standard of living.

A great example of that in practice is James & Wells client Kalvin Singh, the Otorohanga dairy farmer and contractor who won the Golden Standard Award for the Best Invention at Fieldays in 2010. He was back at Fieldays this year at the new Innovator Accelerator venue.

His ‘Maxi-Trak Quatro’ addresses the difficulty 4WD tractors have with pulling very heavy weights because the front wheels of the tractor would end up off the ground. The ‘Maxi-Trak Quatro’ transfers weight to the front of the tractor, enabling a smooth and easy tow, increased performance, low fuel consumption and greater protection of the machinery.

After the patents protecting the ‘Maxi-Trak Quatro’ are granted, which is expected to be in the next few months, Kalvin will soon begin commercialising in earnest. He will also be taking part in events similar to Fieldays in the United States and Australia.

James & Wells congratulates all its clients on their success at past and present Fieldays.


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