TIN Member Spotlight: Bluelab

11 June 2021
Annual Technology Investment Network (TIN) survey launches this week into a changed world

Bluelab first appeared on the TIN 200 list in 2017 and today ranks as No 104, inching its way ever closer to the TIN100 after its debut on the Absolute IT Supreme Scale-ups winners list in 2019.

The company has become the standard for high-precision and innovative measurement technology in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) and was featured in the 2020 edition of the New Zealand Agritech Insights Report.

We caught up with CEO Greg Jarvis to find out more about the company’s future plans.

In 2020, you attributed your export success to people on the ground in your target export markets, understanding and closing innovation gaps in product development and focusing on building solutions for your customer problems. Fast forward one year, are your key success factors still the same? 
The key factors remain similar, however focusing on digital solutions has become even more important. From virtual training and education, to equipping our remote staff with better tools to allow them to be effective whether they are in front of the customer in-person or on-screen. What has been of real significance over this time was a company-wide emphasis on remaining connected to our customers by whatever means possible: phone, email or Zoom just to check-in and see how they were doing. We had great customer feedback that this was really appreciated as so few companies bothered to do it.
In June 2020, you rebranded under the purpose of “the art of growing for a healthier world.” Have you changed how you operate with this shift in brand?

It’s been a major shift. For us, the art of growing for a healthier world is our guide for all our long term decisions. In the short term, we have focussed on applying this purpose in two major areas;  grower education and company sustainability. From an educational standpoint, we have invested heavily in developing free guides, blog and webinar content that ‘pulls down the barriers’ to Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) for first time growers, while simultaneously challenging existing growers to optimize their programs around more sustainable business practices. Our new blog The Art of Growing and webinar series The Future of Controlled Environment Agriculture are all great examples of this.

Company sustainability is multifaceted for us, as a long term goal we have agreed at a leadership level to pursue B Corporation certification, a third-party accreditation that requires companies to meet social sustainability and environmental performance standards. As part of our first steps towards this, we’ve begun discussions with thinkstep-anz to review and identify Bluelab’s target Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the short term, we are focussing on making quick changes where we can including rethinking our entire packaging line (which will result in saving 3.36 tonnes of plastic from landfill each year) and activating our staff to go through The Bluelab Impact Committee to reduce waste, increase healthy choice options and support not-for profit community initiatives that align with our values.

You mentioned in TIN’s 2020 Agritech Insights Report that virtually every member of your software engineering team is an immigrant. How are you coping with finding talent currently when New Zealand’s borders are closed? 
Finding talent to fill the technical roles has been challenging with the borders closed.  We have recently recruited a senior role and that took some time to fill.  We are looking to recruit around 10 additional engineering roles and we expect that this will take until the end of the year.  Our aim will be to employ locally first until we get more clarity on the border status.
The New Zealand government announced the launch of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan last year. What do you think should be the government’s top three priorities to support the Agritech sector moving forward?
  • Focus on informing people about the sector’s opportunities for school leavers and graduates.
  • Continue to develop collaboration opportunities within the sector by leveraging the existing competencies within Callaghan Innovation and NZTE.
  • Support the acceleration of Agtech solutions that look to solve global agricultural issues as well as NZ based ones.
Click here to view the TINTech Directory listing to learn more about Bluelab.

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