New accelerator programme to boost New Zealand’s primary industries

SOURCE: Dan Freeman/Unsplash
The acceleration programme provides business leaders with strategies on how to best adapt the latest technology within their sector.

By U2B Staff 

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A new accelerator programme by Massey University is set to address skill gaps within New Zealand’s emerging and primary industries to ensure students are well prepared to fill the needs of the future job market. 

The Industry 4.0 Accelerator (i4) was established through a long-term partnership between Massey University, Microsoft and The Collaborative Studio

The accelerator programme encompasses targeted skils, capability and leadership education and real-world industry training programmes to advance students’ digital skills and more in the manufacturing, engineering, logistics, technologies, and agriculture sectors. 


After establishing the Primary Industries and Regional Innovation Collaborative (PIRIC) in 2019, Massey University and Microsoft began work to design the i4 as an initiative that aligns with the PIRIC’s aim to ensure that New Zealand communities have the access, confidence, skills and ability to adapt to emerging technologies following the emergence of industry 4.0. 

The programme not only aims to bridge the technology skill gaps among students, but it will also provide business and industry leaders with executive education programmes aimed at delivering skills that are required to tackle industry 4.0. 

Besides that, i4 will also accelerate digital adoption within New Zealand’s primary industries through further collaboration between industry, government and academic audiences. 

Accelerator Programme
New Zealand’s agrifood sector is one of the country’s biggest industries. Source: Naseem Buras/Unsplash. 

For example, i4’s most recent initiative is the FarmBeats Technology Trials which engages with agrifood and fibre stakeholders to support and explore the best strategies for technology adoption for regional farming systems and business models. 

“Technology is driving transformation in agrifood and fibre at an incredible speed, so it’s vital we move quickly to ensure the education system meets the requirements of what businesses need to be innovative. It’s especially important for the agrifood and fibre sector to remain competitive for years to come and capitalise on brighter thinking and bigger ideas,” said Microsoft education lead Anne Taylor in a report by IT Brief. 

“The Productivity Commission’s latest report into the future of work raised concerns around managing the risks of disruptive technological change and its impact on New Zealand’s workforce. The i4 programme, a collaboration between the private sector and tertiary education, is a good example of how we can collectively work to give students the skills they need to advance in their careers and create a more sustainable future.”

The i4 initiative will also work on addressing how the job market has and will change in the near future by preparing students in these primary industries to be well-versed in the types of technology that can be applied. 

“The rise of new working styles and career paths, like hybrid-jobs and the gig economy, means there is more pressure than ever for employees to combine different skills to meet employer demands,” said Massey University Dean of Enterprise Dr Gavin Clark. 

“The agrifood and fibre sector has been particularly impacted by this shift. It’s not just about being a farmer or grower anymore, you’ve got to tackle tasks that will likely require new tools, apps and ways of working as the industry keeps pace with the changing environment. The current education programme needs to reflect this shift in focus.”


The i4 accelerator programme is still being shaped by team members with extensive consultation with industry and government partners as well as students over the next 90 days. 

“We’re hosting a series of hackathons for students, business leaders and government to help define the required skills to be integrated into the programme, which is something that’s never been done before. We also want to focus on supporting students from under-served communities in our regional economies,” said i4 incoming executive director Malcolm Fraser.