Architect: We should be building out of sunshine

Tahlia HopkinsMediaRelease

“Imagine a building made of sky”, says Bruce King, a Californian architect and author of a new book entitled “The New Carbon Architecture”, due to be released soon. And we are already. Australia’s top developers are leading the way with timber buildings for midrise construction. The wood-based designs are better, faster and more user-friendly than those made of traditional materials. A conference with wide appeal on commercial timber is coming to New Zealand soon.

King’s new book is due out later in 2017. Titled ‘The New Carbon Architecture, Building Out of Sky’ – he means using building using materials that come from the sky. Carbon from the CO2 in the air, sunlight and water, which, through photosynthesis, grow plants we can process into building materials.

“For the first time in history, we can build pretty much anything out of carbon that we coaxed from the air. All of these emerging technologies – and more – arrive in tandem with the growing understanding that the so-called embodied carbon of building materials matters a great deal more than anyone thought in the fight to halt and reverse climate change”, says King.

Keynote speakers from Canada and Australia will deliver presentations on how this vision is already becoming a reality in their countries, at a national conference in Rotorua on 28th September. Entitled “Advantages of Timber in Mid-Rise Construction,” this second annual conference continues to attract architects, developers, engineers, specifiers, plus building officials and owners.

Conference organiser John Stulen says, “Australian companies are moving ahead of their New Zealand counterparts in commercial building. Their key advantages come from using engineered wood. This emerging trend in new commercial buildings is not just economical but also environmentally friendly. It’s now clear that wood structures are giving industry leaders an edge over traditional materials in many ways.”

Stulen explains the inspiration for this conference came from Rotorua’s mayor Steve Chadwick when she championed the council’s ‘Wood-First’ policy.

“Rotorua’s economy is built on wood. Adding value by engineering the resource for commercial building is a ‘win-win’ for everyone in the supply chain. Thanks to the mayor’s vision and enthusiasm this wood-first conference series was born. So, the Rotorua Lakes Council is a natural partner for us,” Stulen says.

The conference is set to be part of a week of events on wood technology coming to the city in September, including FIEA’s WoodTECH 2017, a two-day conference and trade expo. Stulen said they have also partnered several key national wood industry groups to make this happen.


Information links:

Changing Perceptions Conference – Advantages of Timber in Midrise Construction – 28th September in Rotorua:

WoodTECH 2017 Conference – Wood Scanning, Sawing, Optimisation:

About the book – The New Carbon Architecture:

Building out of sunshine:

Media Release: Industry leaders capturing timber’s commercial advantages

Tahlia HopkinsMediaRelease

7 July 2017

Australian companies are moving ahead of their New Zealand counterparts in commercial building. Wood is one of the key factors in the advantages they have gained. There is now a strong trend for new commercial buildings being built in timber. Engineered wood is clearly giving industry leaders the edge over traditional materials in many ways.

Companies like Lendlease and Strongbuild are among the leaders in Australia, and are at the leading edge of the building industry for both mid-rise residential construction and high-rise office buildings. First mover advantages such as speed of construction, material savings and performance on certain sites are giving the leaders an edge over traditional materials.

Both companies are part of an upcoming conference called “Changing Perceptions of Engineered Timber in Construction”, running on 28 September in Rotorua. This second annual conference will draw building owners, developers, architects, engineers, specifiers and many service and supply companies.

The keynote speaker is a senior project manager – Karla Fraser – from Urban One Builders. This leading edge company delivered a new tall timber building – the now world-famous Brock Commons building on the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus in Vancouver, Canada. The project was completed ahead of schedule and was officially handed over this week.

At 18 stories high, Brock Commons is now the tallest timber building in the world. However, recent project announcements in both the UK and USA will see that record being claimed elsewhere soon.

Conference director, John Stulen of Innovatek, says, “Building on the great response from our audience of over 150 industry professionals last year, we’ve added more case studies and a focus on showing where commercial advantages are being found.”

“We worked hard to find the right mix of speakers. With our event partners , Timber Design Society and Building Officials Institute of New Zealand, we‘ve got a great one-day conference for building professionals to learn from,” added Stulen.

“We’re thrilled to have Karla as our keynote speaker. Her expertise, enthusiasm and project experience will be very valuable, especially what she gained from the Brock Commons project.”

UBC’s building requirements reflect the university’s commitment to sustainability. Wood, as a renewable material, was chosen in part to reflect this commitment. Brock Commons was also designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification requirements.

The fire safety design of Brock Commons underwent a peer-review process involving a panel of leading fire safety experts, scientists, authorities having jurisdiction, and firefighters. In a fire, heavy timber chars on the outside while retaining strength on the inside, slowing combustion and allowing time to evacuate the building. Brock Commons has been designed to meet the one and two-hour fire ratings required for this type of building, exceeding fire and seismic standards for a concrete or steel structure.

Rotorua was the obvious choice as host city for an international commercial building conference with it’s ‘Wood-First’ policy making it a local leader in encouraging sustainable commercial buildings. The conference is set to be part of a wood technology week of events coming to the city in September, including the FIEA WoodTECH 2017 two-day conference and trade expo.

Announcing MobileTECH 2018

Ken WilsonMobileTECH

Every year MobileTECH brings together over 300 technology leaders, developers, early adopters and major industry operators from throughout the primary sector. MobileTECH, which runs over 2 intense days, is always buzzing with activity and the event held earlier this year was no exception. MobileTECH continues to be the only cross-sector event of its type to bring together the technology leaders from right across the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors.

We are pleased to announce that MobileTECH 2018 will be taking place on the 27-28 March 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand.

The theme for 2018 is “Innovation through Smart Data”.

In the past, innovations in hardware and machines were the main productivity drivers. Now business data and decision-making software are the catalysts for completely new technologies and growth in the primary sector.

Wireless connectivity, advanced sensors, smart data, automation and increasing computing power are generating new opportunities. The Internet of Things (IoT) is being rolled out to farmers and orchards across the country, satellite imagery has become an essential forest management planning tool and critical business information is available anywhere at a touch of a button.

We are generating more data than ever before. We are, however, only just starting to scrape the surface on how we can use the data to make smarter business decisions in real-time.

In a major study earlier this year, machine learning competed with doctors in the visual diagnosis of lung cancer. The machine was better than even the best doctors. Continued advancements in digitisation, analytics, artificial intelligence and automation will have a major impact on the primary sector. There is a very real probability that a machine will soon make a better decision than a farmer with 50 years of experience!

While it is still early days in the MobileTECH 2018 programme development, if you are interested in becoming a speaker (or have some great ideas for the programme), we would love to hear from you. A Speaker Interest Form is available on the event website.

If your business is also interested in working closer with us to build on the MobileTECH 2018 event, please contact us directly.

Thanks again for your support and stay tuned for more updates via!

MobileTECH 2017 Event Summary

Ken WilsonMobileTECH

MobileTECH 2017 was held in Rotorua, New Zealand, on the 22-23 March 2017. Well over 300 attended from throughout New Zealand and Australia – a real who’s who of primary industry and technology leaders.

The theme this year was disruptive innovations and the people behind them. The general consensuses was that we are in a new era of technology within the primary industry and, to survive, the sector must embrace the change and capitalise the opportunities – both nationally and globally.
The developers, innovators, major industry operators and early adopters in attendance represented the future of our food and fibre industries.

MobileTECH 2017 featured 41 speakers and covered topics like technology disruption, the Internet of Things, rural connectivity, cloud-based platforms, automated data collection, remote sensors, robotics, field capture tools, data management and satellite mapping.

The Meet the Future Leaders Panel was once again a popular session. The panel featured Chelsea Millar, a board member at NZ Young Farmers and owner of Grassroots Media, ; Alastair Neville, a young farmer and leader from Reporoa; and Andrew Hutchinson, the 2016 NZ Young Horticulturalist of the Year. One point that stood out was the need for developers to better engage with the next generation and focus on solving the common day-to-day issues within the industry.

The Meet the Early Adaptors Panel was a new feature of MobileTECH this year. This panel brought together farmers and orchardists to discuss their views on the integration of technology within their businesses. The panel included Aka Aka Dairy Farmer Tony Walters, Canterbury farmer and Federated Farmers representative, Chris Allen and T&G Pipfruit’s National Orchard Manager, Lachlan Mckay. The Internet of Things was the big discussion point and one that will play a major part in the industry over the next couple of years.

Our Keynote Speakers included Andrew Gibbs, Partner & Head of NZ Primary Industries for Deloitte, Marcel van den Assum, Chairman of Angel Association NZ, Hannah Fraser, Enterprise Ireland’s Senior Market Advisor for Agribusiness and Mike Chapman, Chief Executive of Horticulture NZ.

Andrew Gibbs said that new advancements in agricultural biotech, digital technology and data analytics are transforming agriculture through “precision farming” on an industrial scale in developed markets. It is also creating new value chain links for smallholders, such as digital finance, mobile weather and price information.

Marcel van den Assum, one of NZ’s foremost experts in startup investment, stated that NZ has the opportunity to be a major Upstart Nation in AgriTech. The growth drivers are there, but it comes down to much more than just opportunity. The opportunity cost of not stepping up is much greater.

The TECH Talks were another conference highlight. This year we had 12 technology solutions presented during the lightening round of talks and panel discussions. We had talks on specialist apps, end-to-end solutions, UAV services, GIS, mapping, mobile platforms, data management, health & safety and payroll apps.

It is now clearer than ever that technology is set to deliver a massive step change in how our agriculture, horticulture and forestry sectors operate. The Internet of Things, automated data aggregation and integrated decision support systems are key technology trends for our rural businesses.

Development of next year’s MobileTECH 2018 has already started. This event will continue to innovate and provide an important platform for mobile technologies designed to increase productivity, streamline operations and build growth for the primary industry businesses.

MobileTECH 2017 starts this Wednesday 22 March

Ken WilsonMobileTECH

We are looking forward to hosting 300+ industry representatives at MobileTECH 2017 this week. A lot is planned. Over 40 presentations, discussion panels, demos and TECH Talks.

Our mission has always been to create a platform for change for people across New Zealand’s primary industries. A place where technology developers, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and the next generation can meet, learn, discuss and showcase the latest technologies impacting on industry operations.

For further details and to register, go to

See you in Rotorua!

New tech will help assure NZ food stories [Media Post]

Ken WilsonMobileTECH

The use of new technologies to assist New Zealand’s value chain connections will be a focus at a primary industries tech conference next week

The 5th annual MobileTECH conference was taking place in Rotorua, focusing on new technologies and innovations designed and developed for New Zealand’s agricultural, horticultural and forestry industries.

A broad range of issues would be discussed including the latest disruptions affecting the sector, including robotics and automation and data and supply chain innovations.

One issue that would be considered was the use of technology to help verify claims around NZ’s food supply chain integrity.

Rezare Systems director Andrew Cooke would be addressing technology’s role in telling a NZ primary industries story.

“It is important to tell this story but the story needs to be backed up with data and information so the story you are telling consumers is real.”

Cooke said there were opportunities to do this with new information technology tools, new sensors to actually collect the data, crunch the data and use it as supporting material.

“I’m not of the mind that the data tells the story but the worst things that have happened when people have told stories about their products are when they’ve been found not to be true.

“You can put systems in place and technology in place to make sure that is not going to happen.”

Elsewhere, the Internet of Things would be a focus, with MobileTECH programme manager Ken Wilson labelling it a game-changer for the industry.

A report from American-based BI Intelligence predicted IoT device installations throughout the agricultural sector would increase from 30 million units in 2015 to more than 75m in 2020.

On the average farm, the data points collected per day would also increase from 190,000 in 2014 to 4.1m in 2050.

Wilson said the Internet of Things had evolved from the relatively simple RFID tagging and data tracking of cattle. IoT was now the backbone of a centralised system tracking and analysing data from multiple sources right across the farm.

Spark was now working with more than 100 farmers to install Internet of Things systems into their operations.

MobileTECH 2017 would be running on March 22 and 23.

[First appeared on AgriHQ]

Are you making authentic supply chain promises? (Guest Post)

Ken WilsonMobileTECH

If you’re in the food business (whether that’s retail, food service, processing, farming, or supply), consumers are asking questions about your supply chain.

Of course, they may not be asking you directly, and they may not be asking your retail or food service partner, but they are asking: on social media, on recommendation sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, even over drinks at their local.

Are you providing the information they need to be confident about the quality and safety of your product? Do you have a substantiated story around provenance, animal welfare and the environment?

Safeguards such as DNA testing lasagne are “bottom of the cliff” activities, an attempt to rebuild broken trust and arguably too limited and late in the supply chain.

Future product preference and even acceptance relies upon a supply chain that can show ethical practices: in how environmental impacts are managed, natural biodiversity is encouraged, animal welfare is maintained, anti-microbial resistance is avoided, and workers and communities are treated.

Activist groups and the power of social media means that our response to these demands must be much more solid than a promise or a declaration form. We must have the systems and measures to back up our words – and to demonstrate as much to auditors and our supply-chain partners.

For those of us at the confluence of technology and agriculture, this means we must do more than just record activities and calculate gross margins. We must step up with tools that capture rich data in support of farming activities, and which actively encourage good decisions that improve both profitability and sustainability.

All this needs to be done with minimal additional effort by farmers and their staff, and aligned to real-world processes on farm.

I’ll be speaking at MobileTech 2017, the annual summit for technology innovations in the primary sector, reflecting on these challenges. I’ll summarise some of the work Rezare Systems is doing in this space, and suggest ways the industry could apply technology to the opportunity.

This article was first published at

MobileTECH highlighted on a number of NZ radio shows

Ken WilsonMobileTECH

MobileTECH 2017 has been covered recently by a number of radio shows.

Radio NZ interviewed MobileTECH’s programme manager, Ken Wilson, on the Morning Rural News Show last month. This interview highlighted the upcoming MobileTECH 2017 conference and just how far technology has come to change farming and impact the wider primary industries.  Show hosts loved the idea of an event for ‘geek farmers’ – while that tagline may not necessarily cover the range of people coming to MobileTECH, I’m sure that there will be more than a couple geek farmers attending.

While it’s only a short interview, click here to listen (starts 2:58 minutes into the audio).

Longtime MobileTECH delegate and freelance writer, Cameron Officer, was interviewed on NBR Radio (National Business Review). The big highlight of this interview was on Dave Verma’s autonomous vehicles dinner presentation at MobileTECH 2017. You can listen to the interview below.

Key Programme Features

Ken WilsonMobileTECH

Over 40 Speakers on Disruptive Innovation

This is one of our strongest programmes. The line-up is full of award winning technologies, innovative new platforms and exciting applications. Over 40 industry experts will be be speaking. Click here to view the updated programme.

Meet the Early Adopters Panel

We will hear from a passionate cross-section of early adopters and their views on the integration of technology. The panel includes; Tony Walters from Aka Aka Dairy Farm, Canterbury Farmer and Federated Farmers National Board Member, Chris Allen and Lachlan Mckay, the National Orchard Manager for T&G Pipfruit. Kevin Cooney, Head of Agri Capital at ASB will facilitate the discussion.

Meet the Future Leaders Panel

This panel was one of the major highlights at MobileTECH last year. Some of the brightest young farmers and horticulturalists will be discussing their views on technology and how they see it powering their businesses into the future. The panellists for 2017 are; Chelsea Millar, NZ Young Farmers National Board Member and Owner of Grass Roots Media, Alastair Neville, a Reporoa Farmer & former Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final convener  and Andrew Hutchinson, the 2016 Young Horticulturalist of the Year. The facilitator is John Ascroft, the Chief Innovation Officer for Jade Software.

TECH Talks

There will be up to 15 lightning talks on the best innovations and services available in NZ for the primary sector. This fast paced session format is designed to give technology companies 5 mins each to pitch their new innovations to the market.

Conference Dinner Presentation

MobileTECH industry dinners are a chance for delegates to relax and network. We like to give our guests a after-dinner speaker that gives an exciting look at upcoming technologies that will have a big impact on how we live our lives. The presentation this year is titled “Disruptive innovation – driverless vehicles are closer than you think”. Dave Verma, the Director of Australasian Driverless Vehicle Initiatives at HMI Technologies, will show us how advanced the research is and just how close we are to the real world roll-out of driverless vehicles.

What Now?

Make sure to register early to avoid missing out.