Amos Palfreyman is passionate about the Manawatu’s potential to become an international food science destination, and he has a unique background to help make it happen.
For the past five years Amos was the Economic and Trade Affairs Advisor at the Embassy of Israel in Wellington. His role focused on connecting and encouraging technology driven businesses in Israel and New Zealand to work together for mutual benefit. He was curious as to what New Zealand could learn from working with Israel, a nation that punches above its weight in terms of entrepreneurship and technological innovation. His role in economic and trade development included NZ trade visits to Israel and culminated in several successful technology joint ventures in the agriculture, medical and energy sectors.
One of these involved a collaboration between Nelson based company, NZ Supreme Health and Algatech an Israeli partner to scale their micro-algae to commercial levels before returning it to New Zealand for the extraction of astaxanthin. The algae is grown in Nelson and was originally developed in partnership with FoodHQ partner Cawthron Research Institute who worked with Supreme Health to successfully establish a pilot scale facility and ultimately an Astaxanthin export market.
Another important aspect of the role was the facilitation of NZ trade visits to Israel like the May 2016 fact finding mission led by Simon Moutter MD of Spark which included the now Minister of Trade David Parker. Their mission was to identify why Israel was so successful at creating and growing technology start-ups and what could New Zealand learn.
Some of the key learnings from that trip was that despite New Zealand developing innovative technologies on par with anything in Israel there was a comparatively weak level of commercialisation of these technologies and that as a nation New Zealand was not effective at collaborating.
Amos says a significant difference between the two countries, identified in a 100-page report following the visit, was the way Israel embraced entrepreneurship as a nation and specifically their culture around failure.
“New Zealand investors want to back proven winners, but Israeli investment funds often don’t invest in someone who has just had success. They actually want to invest in someone who has failed and demonstrated they have learnt from the failing.”
Israel’s collaborative and easy to navigate start up ecosystem and the willingness of the Israeli government to de-risk private venture investment combined with a nationally celebrated entrepreneurial culture has resulted in it becoming a world leading technology and research destination.
Amos’ most recent visit to Israel was in May 2018 when he was fortunate enough to join a delegation of senior NZ and Australian agriculture executives led by Fonterra’s Miles Hurrell with a focus on learning lessons in agritech and foodtech from the “startup nation” ecosystem.
The visit and the incredible opportunity for NZ recognised in the subsequent report resulted in Amos’ career coming full circle two months later in July 2018 when he joined FoodHQ, just a few hundred metres away from Fonterra Research and Development Centre where he first began work in the sensory division over 10 years ago.
He has a deep interest in food, a genuine desire to contribute to NZ Inc and a commitment to seeing NZ reach it’s potential for increased export growth based on value added products. It’s also clear he has a deep belief in the the power of the FoodHQ partners to collaborate and make Manawatu a global food science destination.
“It’s really exciting to be working at the intersection of scientists and food. If you have a great idea for something about food and want to connect with some experts in the field doing cool things, FoodHQ is where you come.”