Robotics Plus appoints CEO as demand grows for agricultural automation
Robotics Plus, a New Zealand agricultural robotics and automation company, today announced it has appointed Dr Matt Glenn as the company’s chief executive officer. The move comes after a period of accelerated growth for Robotics Plus fuelled by industry demand for its innovative horticulture automation technologies.
“The company is growing strongly and is well funded, so now is the right time to add a professional chief executive to lead our high calibre team. We are very pleased to have attracted someone of Matt’s calibre, he brings over 20 years of experience in business management and the commercialisation of science and technology,” says Steve Saunders, Co-Founder and Chairman of Robotics Plus, who had held the role of Acting CEO. Mr Saunders will remain an Executive Director to focus on the strategy and establishment of a US subsidiary.
Dr Glenn has an Honours degree and PhD in Molecular Biology from Liverpool University and Leeds University respectively. He was previously the CEO of Hill Laboratories, New Zealand’s leading analytical testing laboratory, a role he served since 2014. Prior to that he worked in management consulting after roles at Fonterra and Ballance Agri-nutrients where he gained expertise in a broad range of management disciplines. This followed a role at biotech start-up Genesis Research and Development where he helped develop the largest genomics platform in the Southern Hemisphere.
Dr Glenn says, “I’m excited to be joining such a creative and innovative company with ambitions to lead the world in robotics development focused on our food and fibre industries. The company is well positioned to deliver on this vision and has some fantastic commercial partnerships in Yamaha, Global Pac Technologies, ISO, Zespri and Trimax.”
Earlier in the year, Robotics Plus secured investment and a partnership agreement from Yamaha Motor Co. (Japan) and the Saunders Family Trust in New Zealand to support its ambitious growth plans.
In May, Robotics Plus signed an agency and distribution agreement with Global Pac Technologies, a joint venture between United States company Van Doren Sales and New Zealand-owned Jenkins Group, for the company’s revolutionary robotic apple packers to go global. The apple packer, which identifies and places apples in their trays and can safely handle up to 120 fruit per minute which is the equivalent of two people, is already operating in packhouses in New Zealand and the USA.
Robotics Plus apple packers are the first of a suite of technologies to be commercially launched, which aim to address major issues in the horticulture industry caused by labour shortages and increasing consumer demand for fresh fruit. Other technologies under development, at various stages of commercialisation, include an autonomous agricultural vehicle, robotic kiwifruit harvester, robotic pollinator, crop estimator, and a number of confidential projects.
Dr Glenn says the company is well supported in its vision to grow into a truly global business that will transform a number of industries.
“Robotics Plus has established valuable research relationships with the University of Waikato, the University of Auckland, Massey University and Plant & Food Research. We’re also a founding partner of PlantTech, a new, industry-led research organisation based in the Western Bay of Plenty. Our innovation and growth plans are well supported by Government agencies, Callaghan Innovation, NZTE, MBIE, MPI and TPK.”
A key focus for Robotics Plus in the coming months will be actively recruiting more engineers, to add to their team of 27 staff and 8 researchers, to keep pace with the global demand for their innovation.